|NHLBI Launches National Campaign To Educate
About Peripheral Arterial Disease — Clogged Arteries in the Legs
September 18-22 is National Peripheral Arterial Disease Awareness
More than 8 million men and women — one in 20 adults — have
peripheral arterial disease (P.A.D), a largely unrecognized condition
which puts them at risk for heart attack and stroke. The symptoms
of P.A.D., such as fatigue, heaviness, pain and cramping in the
leg muscles when walking that go away with rest, are often mistaken
for signs of aging and ignored. More often, the disease is silent,
causing no noticeable symptoms.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National
Institutes of Health, in partnership with the P.A.D. Coalition,
are launching “Stay in Circulation: Take Steps to Learn About P.A.D.,” a
national campaign to raise awareness among those at risk. The campaign
encourages men and women over age 50 to be alert to P.A.D. symptoms,
to talk to their doctors about their risks, and to ask about a
simple test called the ankle brachial index (ABI). The ABI test
compares blood pressure measurements in the ankle with those in
the arm. It can help detect reduced blood flow to the lower legs,
a sign of P.A.D.
P.A.D. occurs when arteries, particularly in the lower legs, become
clogged with fatty deposits that limit blood flow. Just like clogged
arteries in the heart, having clogged arteries in the legs increases
the risk of heart attack and stroke. Those at risk for PAD include
people over 50, particularly African Americans, those who smoke
or have a history of smoking, those with diabetes, high blood pressure,
high cholesterol, or those with a personal or family history of
other vascular diseases, such as heart attack, or stroke.
“Symptoms of P.A.D. should not be mistaken for inevitable consequences
of aging,” said NHLBI Director Elizabeth G. Nabel, M.D. “Early
detection and treatment of P.A.D. are important for staying in
circulation and continuing to enjoy life to the fullest.”
In addition to the symptoms that occur when walking, people with
severe P.A.D. can experience pain in the feet or legs that disturbs
sleep. However, most people with P.A.D. do not experience leg pain
or any other noticeable symptoms.
“Quite often, P.A.D. is untreated until it is most severe, leaving
people vulnerable to heart attack and stroke,” said Alan Hirsch,
M.D., chair of the P.A.D. Coalition, professor of epidemiology
and community health at the University of Minnesota School of Public
Health and director, vascular medicine program at the Minneapolis
Heart Institute and Abbott Northwestern's Vascular Center. “Through
this campaign, we are educating patients and supporting health
care providers in evaluating and treating their patients.”
Stay in Circulation: Take Steps to Learn About P.A.D. is sponsored
by the NHLBI in partnership with the P.A.D. Coalition, an alliance
of more than 40 leading health organizations, vascular health societies
and government agencies united to raise public and health professional
awareness about P.A.D.
The Stay in Circulation campaign, rolling out this fall, includes
radio and print public service announcements in English and Spanish,
brochures in English and Spanish, an educational video and a community
tool kit to aid partners in spreading the word about P.A.D. on
the local level. The P.A.D. Coalition is complementing this effort
by providing clinical practice tools and educational resources
for health care providers.
To interview an NHLBI spokesperson, please call (301) 496-4236.
Stay in Circulation: Take Steps to Learn About P.A.D. Web site: www.aboutpad.org
Diseases and Conditions Index: Peripheral Arterial Disease: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/pad/pad_what.html
P.A.D. Coalition Web site: www.padcoalition.org
Part of the National Institutes of Health, the National Heart,
Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) plans, conducts, and supports
research related to the causes, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment
of heart, blood vessel, lung, and blood diseases; and sleep disorders.
The Institute also administers national health education campaigns
on women and heart disease, healthy weight for children, and
other topics. NHLBI press releases and other materials are available
online at: www.nhlbi.nih.gov.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's
Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and
Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting
and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research,
and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both
common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and
its programs, visit www.nih.gov.