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

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
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