Peripheral artery disease (PAD) means there is some kind of blockage in the arteries, usually in the lower extremities. It puts your heart at risk. A new study of 45,000 men illustrates who needs to be most on guard for this dangerous condition.
In a study published in JAMA, researchers found that men who a) smoke, b) have high blood pressure, c) have high cholesterol, and d) are diabetic, have a greater risk of developing PAD. This is a disease that affects up to 10 million Americans, reducing the bodyâs function and increasing the risk of heart issues, even leading to death.
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Despite being common, and having such a severe impact on life, PAD is underdiagnosed and undertreated. Until now, scientists have generally thought risk factors for PAD were similar to other forms of heart disease. There hasnât been much research specifically into the matter.
To that end, the new study assessed the typical cardiovascular risk factors of smoking, hypertension, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes with the risk of PAD among men. At the studyâs beginning in 1986, none of the men had a history of heart disease. They were tracked for up to 25 years, with risk factors regularly updated.
Of these men, there were 537 cases of PAD. The researchers found that each risk factor was significantly and independently associated with a higher risk of PAD. If a man had two risk factors, the risk for PAD doubled. Add on another one, like high cholesterol, and the risk doubled again. On the flip side, men who had none of the four risk factors were 77% less likely to develop PAD.
In 96% of PAD cases, at least one of the four factors was present.
The longer a man had type 2 diabetes, or the longer he had high levels of cholesterol, the greater the risk. Men with a history of high blood pressure had a higher PAD risk if they took medications to treat it. As you might suspect, the more cigarettes smoked, the stronger the risk for peripheral artery disease.
Understanding oneâs risk for certain diseases is of obvious importance, especially for conditions that donât get the play that others do. The smoking angle again shows that the habitâs effects go well past the lungs. The diabetes angle shows that the disease impacts the body in a vast array of ways. And the blood pressure and cholesterol angles are already well-established to be serious problems for the circulatory system.
If you address the risk factors, you could protect yourself from PAD.
Sources for Today’s Articles:
New Risk Group for Potential Clogged Arteries Revealed
JAMA. 2012; 308: 1,660-1,667.