I have previously written many articles regarding cardiovascular disease, atherosclerotic disease, stroke, and vascular disease in general. However, this topic really deserves its own space in any health-related publication.
Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is really the same disease as atherosclerotic disease of the coronary vessels which supply blood and fresh oxygen directly to your heart—except that it occurs in the arteries of the pelvis and legs. The same risk factors which cause heart disease can also be attributed to the development of PAD and they include obesity, smoking, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, high levels of inflammation, genetics, and poor lifestyle dynamics. PAD is the third leading cause of atherosclerotic morbidity.
Recently, research published in the The Lancet led by Dr. G. Fowkes looked at the prevalence of PAD between high, middle, and low income countries; the establishment of primary risk factors for the development of PAD; and how many people were presently living with PAD. The researchers looked at a total of 22 studies done on high income countries and 12 from lower income countries. Of the 112,027 participants, 9,347 had PAD. The findings indicated that despite income level or gender, the older the person was, the more likely that they were to be diagnosed with PAD. Smoking, having diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol were big risk factors for PAD.
The researchers also found that, from a global perspective, there were 202 million people who were presently living with PAD as of 2010. Approximately 70% of those were living in lower to middle income countries. During the time period, between 2000-2010, the prevalence of PAD had increased almost 29% in lower-middle income countries and 13% in high income countries.
The results of this study are not surprising, given the other data we have on the prevalence of obesity, type 2, diabetes and heart disease. These are global concerns, of course, but PAD is a bit different because it doesn’t really get a great deal of attention in the media, health publications, or government agencies. In my opinion, PAD is a leading cause of morbidity, hospitalization, infections, amputation, surgical procedures, and rising medical costs. PAD can not only cause issues with your legs and feet but it can also be the source of plaque fragments and clots which can travel to other parts of the body and cause a partial or complete interruption in blood flow.
There are many things you can do to lower your risk of developing this disease, regardless of your income or where you happen to live. Here are a few ways to lower your risk:
- Stop Smoking
- Lose Excess Weight
- Correct Insulin Resistance
- Lower Inflammation
- Take Over The Counter Drugs: Talk to your doctor regarding the daily use of aspirin if you are at higher risk of developing PAD.
Sources for Today’s Article:
Wood, S., “Soaring Rates of PAD Warrant Global Attention,” Medscape web site, August 7, 2013; http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/808706?nlid=32268_1885&src=wnl_edit_dail&uac=205413HV, last accessed August 7, 2013.
Fowkes, G., et al., “Comparison of global estimates of prevalence and risk factors for peripheral artery disease in 2000 and 2010: a systematic review and analysis,” The Lancet. Published online on August 1, 2013.