NHLBI's "Stay in Circulation" Week Focuses on Peripheral Arterial Disease Awareness
The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health is devoting "Stay in Circulation" week—September 17 through the 21st—to focus on raising public awareness of peripheral arterial disease.
Schmalfeldt: It's a common disease that can put you at increased risk for heart attack and stroke, as well as a variety of other serious complications. And chances are you've never heard of it. That's why the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health is devoting "Stay in Circulation" week—September 17 through the 21st—to focus on raising public awareness of peripheral arterial disease.
Desvigne-Nickens: Clearly, peripheral artery disease is a very common and important disease, and it's treatable and preventable. So this is a real opportunity for people to understand atherosclerosis—a process that afflicts five percent of people over the age of 50 and triple that percentage if you're talking about people over 65. So it's a very common disorder for which a little knowledge can go a long way for treating the disease so that you avoid complications.
Schmalfeldt: That was Dr. Patrice Desvigne-Nickens, program director with the Heart Failure and Arrhythmia's Branch at the NHLBI's Division of Cardiovascular Diseases. To put it simply, peripheral arterial disease—also known as PAD—occurs when a fatty material called plaque builds up on the inside walls of the arteries that carry blood from the heart to the head, internal organs, and limbs. Blocked blood flow can cause pain and numbness. It also can increase a person's chance of getting an infection, and it can make it difficult for the person's body to fight the infection. If severe enough, blocked blood flow can cause tissue death. In fact, PAD is the leading cause of leg amputation. A person with PAD has a six to seven times greater risk of coronary artery disease, heart attack, stroke, or transient ischemic attack (otherwise known as a "mini stroke") than the rest of the population. If a person has heart disease, he or she has a 1 in 3 chance of having blocked arteries in the legs. Dr. Desvigne-Nickens said early diagnosis and treatment of PAD, including screening high-risk individuals, are important to prevent disability and save lives.
Desvigne-Nickens: There are many patients that don't have symptoms. So if they have a history of this disease in their family, they should make sure that their physician is checking their risk factors and making sure they don't have peripheral arterial disease.
Schmalfeldt: Dr. Desvigne-Nickens said PAD treatment may stop the disease from progressing and reduce the risk of heart attack, heart disease, and stroke. For more information about peripheral arterial disease, log on to www.nhlbi.nih.gov. From the National Institutes of Health, I'm Bill Schmalfeldt in Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Bill Schmalfeldt
Sound Bite: Dr. Patrice Desvigne-Nickens
Topic: Peripheral Arterial Disease