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Peripheral Artery Disease Up Sharply Among U.S. Women
Date:11/4/2007

The condition, which is symptomless, can lead to heart attack and stroke

SUNDAY, Nov. 4 (HealthDay News) -- More American women are suffering from asymptomatic peripheral artery disease, a circulatory condition that can signal a higher risk for heart attack and stroke, a new study found.

The increase is likely the result of an increase in common cardiovascular risk factors, namely obesity and type 2 diabetes.

But there's a silver lining -- asymptomatic (symptomless) peripheral artery disease (or PAD) can serve as an early warning system for other circulatory problems, experts say.

"The good thing about PAD is it's a peripheral marker for what's probably going on in the coronary arteries as well," said Dr. John P. Erwin III, an associate professor of internal medicine at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine.

"Treatment, especially for asymptomatic patients, is exactly what we would want people to do for coronary disease," added Erwin, who's also a cardiologist with Scott & White Hospital in Temple, Texas. "If we take tight control of diabetes, we help them lose weight, quit smoking, get cholesterol levels down. This has been very, very efficacious in preventing further stenosis [narrowing of the blood vessels] and, in some small trials, there's even been a question about regression of the disease."

The findings were to be presented Sunday at the American Heart Association annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.

Peripheral artery disease occurs when fatty deposits cause the arteries to narrow, reducing the flow of blood to the limbs -- the peripheries of the body.

The study authors, led by Dr. Andrew Sumner of the Heart Station and Cardiac Prevention at Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown, Pa., analyzed data from three National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) between 1999 and 2004. In all, the study involved 5,376 participants aged 40 and o
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