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Few Americans Know of Leg Artery Danger
Date:9/19/2007

Peripheral arterial disease is common and sometimes deadly, researchers say

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Three-quarters of adult Americans polled recently said they knew little or nothing about peripheral arterial disease (PAD), a very common blockage of blood vessels in the legs that boosts heart risk.

"I don't think that was necessarily a surprise among physicians involved in PAD," said Dr. Timothy Murphy, a professor of diagnostic imaging at Brown University, who co-authored a report on the survey, published in the Sept. 18 issue of Circulation.

"Most of us know that many of the patients at risk don't seek medical attention," Murphy said. "But it was surprising that the knowledge base was as small as it was, considering that there are 8 million people in the United States with the disease."

Murphy is a member of the Peripheral Arterial Disease Coalition, which conducted the survey. The coalition is funded by grants from the Bristol-Myers Squibb/Sanofi Aventis Partnership (both members of the Partnership are drug companies) and medical device maker Cordis Endovascular, a division of Cordis Corp.

In PAD, arteries in the legs are narrowed or blocked with fatty deposits. These obstructions can cause leg pain but often produces no symptoms. PAD can damage legs enough to cause amputation, and it can also signal a raised risk of heart attacks or strokes caused by a narrowing of the arteries elsewhere in the body.

Three-quarters of the 2,051 people aged 50 and over queried via phone in the survey said they were aware of strokes, and two-thirds knew about risks of coronary artery disease and heart failure. But just 25 percent knew about PAD -- far behind awareness levels for much rarer conditions, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig's disease (36 percent) and multiple sclerosis (42 percent).

Among the one in four adults who were aware of PAD, only 2
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