September has been coined Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) awareness month. PAD is a cardiovascular disease characterized by the peripheral arteries narrowing causing poor blood flow to the extremities. The disease is most prevalent in the legs and can cause symptoms such as leg cramps, leg pain and fatigue when walking.
If left untreated, PAD can progress into more serious conditions such as heart attack, stroke and even amputation. Those living with PAD can be significantly affected when it comes to mobility. They may often find themselves not being able to walk as fast or as far as they could before their diagnosis.
PAD awareness is so important because 8-12 million people in the US suffer from PAD, according to the National Institutes of Health, yet PAD can remain undiagnosed. This lack of diagnosing PAD could be attributed to oversight. In order to diagnose PAD, providers must remove the shoes and socks of their patients and check their feet annually. If your provider doesn’t check your feet, make sure you are asking them to at least once a year. Secondly, many times patients assume that the pain they are feeling in their feet or legs is due to the normal aging process and fail to mention this pain to their provider.
Awareness for PAD is major because the mortality rate for PAD exceeds that of most cancers and that of cardiovascular diseases itself. One of the biggest reasons we want to bring awareness to PAD is because of how reversible this mortality rate is, if there is early diagnosis and intervention.
Who is most at risk for PAD?
At FCC’s Amputation Prevention Center we have been passionate about preventing amputations for over a decade. For those with PAD, we are able to use our endovascular approach to open arteries, improve blood flow, and in many cases send patients home same-day.