Navigation Links
'Cosby' Star Tackles a Silent Heart Threat
Date:9/19/2007

Family deaths get Phylicia Rashad talking about peripheral artery disease

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Actress Phylicia Rashad has spent decades tickling America's funny bone and tugging at its heart.

But it's Americans' heart health she's working for now, crisscrossing the country to raise awareness of a common but underappreciated and underdiagnosed cardiovascular threat called peripheral artery disease (PAD).

Rashad -- famous for her Emmy-nominated turn as Claire Huxtable during the 1980's TV hit The Cosby Show -- has lost too many family members to heart disease to ignore the problem, she said.

"PAD isn't new, but the diagnosis is recent," said Rashad. "People just used to refer to it as poor circulation, not understanding that PAD is a serious cardiovascular disease, and an indicator that a person is at two times the risk for a heart attack or stroke, and four times as likely to die of a heart attack or stroke."

PAD sets in when plaque formation -- or atherosclerosis -- clogs the arteries and impedes the flow of blood to the legs. Such plaque build-up raises the risk for clot formation and additional arterial blockage, potentially affecting blood flow to the heart or brain.

Part of a larger year-long public health effort entitled P.A.D.: Make the Connection, the campaign is being launched in conjunction with the first National PAD Awareness Month. It is co-sponsored by the nonprofit Peripheral Artery Disease Coalition (PAD Coalition).

A signal of more serious heart disease down the road, PAD often strikes without recognizable symptoms, and experts estimate that 8 million Americans who have the chronic condition remain undiagnosed and untreated.

"It's a condition that physicians don't test for regularly," noted Rashad. "Most people don't even really know about it."

To counter that lack of awareness, Rashad will address press and patients nationwide in face-to-face discussions on screening and treatment options.

Much of her outreach on behalf of PAD awareness is being coordinated by two of the world's largest drug companies, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi Aventis. The two pharmaceutical giants co-manufacture the anti-platelet PAD medication clopidogrel (Plavix) and together have launched a Web site called www.PADFACTS.org.

This is Rashad's second time out stumping on behalf of a health concern. In 2002, she helped launch a diabetes awareness campaign, sponsored by drug maker GlaxoSmithKline.

This time 'round, Rashad offered up recollections of her own family's experience battling cardiovascular disease.

"My father, who had diabetes, died of a heart attack," she recalls. "And his father, who had diabetes, died of a heart attack. My father's brother, who had diabetes, and one of his sisters died of heart attacks. Two of his sisters died of a stroke."

Of eight family members who had diabetes and went on to die of heart disease, none was ever tested for PAD, Rashad said.

"And had there been awareness, and had this test been performed, and if they had this condition -- which is likely -- then there was maybe something that could have happened to avert those circumstances," she said.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), risk for this specific form of peripheral vascular disease rises with age, with somewhere between 12 percent and 20 percent of men and women developing the condition by the age of 65.

People who smoke, diabetics, those with high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol, and those with a family history of cardiovascular disease are at an increased risk for developing PAD.

Patients who do experience symptoms often complain of cramping, pain, and fatigue in the leg or hip muscles when walking or climbing. Such symptoms often temporarily dissipate with rest.

The AHA points out that if left untreated the condition can sometimes lead to gangrene and even amputation.

However, patients can be effectively screened for PAD by having their "ankle-brachial index" calculated by their doctor. The reading is based on blood pressure results taken from the ankles and arms.

"It isn't painful, it isn't costly, and it's simple," Rashad said. She said people at risk for PAD should be tested at least once yearly, a routine she herself follows.

"I don't have PAD," she said. "I have not had to deal with it personally -- I mean other than the consequences of my family members' deaths."

People who do receive a PAD diagnosis should know that good treatment options are available, however.

Routine exercise, including walking and treadmill exercise, is the most effective treatment for PAD, according to the AHA. Kicking the smoking habit and maintaining a diet low in cholesterol, saturated fats, and trans-fat is another weapon against PAD, and cholesterol-lowering drugs are sometimes recommended, the association says.

In some serious cases, patients may have to undergo clot and/or clog removal or even by-pass surgery to reroute blood around a blocked leg artery. Most are able to avoid such invasive procedures by taking anticlotting medications such as aspirin or Plavix, which prevent blood platelets from sticking together to form clots.

Dr. Peter Sheehan, a senior faculty member of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, strongly backed the awareness effort.

"People have to understand that this is a major cardiovascular disease," he said. "When you have it, it's the tip of the iceberg, because it's systemic. It's not just something with the legs giving problems walking. You have it everywhere."

"So PAD is a good warning sign," he added. "It provides an alert to the person and their doctor to go ahead and try to lower the risk for heart attack or stroke."

As the campaign gets under way, Rashad's first major stop will be in Washington D.C., where, on Sept. 18, she and a PAD Coalition team will advocate for increased PAD screening at a special Congressional briefing.

Meanwhile, her career continues apace. She's already the first black actress on Broadway to win a Tony Award as lead actress in a play, for 2004's A Raisin in the Sun, and she just completed work on bringing that play to TV, in an adaptation scheduled to air on ABC next February.

This fall, Rashad will return to Broadway as a wicked queen in the Lincoln Center's production of Shakespeare's Cymbeline.

More information

For more on PAD, visit the American Heart Association.



SOURCES: Phylicia Rashad, actress; Peter Sheehan, M.D., senior faculty, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York City


'/>"/>
Copyright©2007 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved

Related medicine news :

1. Uganda Tackles The Meningitis Outbreak
2. Drug Abuse Tackles Body Builders Breast Growth
3. Water - The silent killer!!!
4. Sleeping sickness - a silent killer
5. Risks for Silent Strokes
6. AIDS - The ‘silent but lethal tsunami’ of Asia
7. Erectile dysfunction: an early warning sign of clinically silent coronary artery disease?
8. Domestic Violence: The Silent Killer of Women Worldwide
9. Silent Shortage Of Psychiatrists growing in the U.S.
10. Sperms not silent in the Female reproductive Tract
11. Carotid Stenting Can Help Patients With Silent Disease
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Pixel Film Studios Released ProSlice Levels, a Media Slicing Effect ... videos a whole new perspective by using the title layers in ProSlice Levels ... , ProSlice Levels contains over 30 Different presets to choose from. FCPX ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... Birmingham, Lake Orion, Clarkston, Michigan (PRWEB) , ... ... ... their direction with respect to fertility once they have been diagnosed with endometriosis. ... for tolerable intercourse but they also require a comprehensive approach that can help ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... ... temporary closing of Bruton Memorial Library on June 21 due to a possible lice infestation, ... aspect of head lice: the parasite’s ability to live away from a human host, and ... necessary one in the event that lice have simply gotten out of control. , As ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... As a lifelong Southern ... Laude and his M.D from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He ... Los Angeles to complete his fellowship in hematology/oncology at the UCLA-Olive View-Cedars Sinai program ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... ... Conventional wisdom preaches the benefits of moderation, whether it’s a matter of indulgence ... high can result in disappointment, perhaps even self-loathing. However, those who set the bar ... from PsychTests.com reveals that behind the tendency to set low expectations is ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... , June 24, 2016   Bay Area ... Network,s Dean Center for Tick Borne Illness ... and Rehabilitation, MIT Hacking Medicine, University of California, ... today announced the five finalists of Lyme ... disease.  More than 100 scientists, clinicians, researchers, entrepreneurs, ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... 2016 Dehaier Medical Systems Ltd. (NASDAQ: ... markets and sells medical devices and wearable sleep respiratory ... strategic cooperation agreement with Hongyuan Supply Chain Management Co., ... June 20, 2016, to develop Dehaier,s new Internet medical ... Dehaier will leverage Hongyuan Supply Chain,s sales platform to ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... Mass. , June 24, 2016   Pulmatrix, ... pharmaceutical company developing innovative inhaled drugs, announced today that ... Russell Investments reconstituted its comprehensive set of ... "This is an important milestone for Pulmatrix," ... will increase shareholder awareness of our progress in developing ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: