Study: PAD Underdiagnosed

Study: PAD Underdiagnosed

Reported October 28, 2009

(Ivanhoe Newswire) — Canadian researchers recommend all people over age 40 get screened for a vascular disease they say is under-recognized.

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) contributes to thousands of deaths annually and raises the risk for heart disease, stroke and lower limb amputations. However, the disease remains under-tested, under-diagnosed and under-treated, Canadian researchers say.

In a study conducted by Edmonton researchers, 362 volunteers over 50 years old were tested for PAD. The test involves comparing the blood pressure in the leg to the blood pressure in the arm. Ratios less than .90 indicate PAD. Five percent of the participants tested positive for PAD, and 80 percent of them were unaware of the condition.

“PAD is caused by a narrowing of the arteries that supply blood to the legs,” Dr. Ross Tsuyuki, Heart and Stroke Foundation researcher, was quoted as saying. “The pain some PAD patients experience is the lower limb equivalent of the chest pain from the heart.”



Dr. Tsuyuki says the condition is as serious as heart disease, and that although suspicion for PAD by family doctors should be high, it is very low.

Half of PAD patients report pain from walking. Open sores with difficulty healing, cold or numb feelings in the legs, and nighttime toe pain are also signs of the condition.

“People don’t realize that leg cramps while walking may be due to circulation problems that put them at risk for heart disease and stroke,” Dr. Beth Abramson, Heart and Stoke Foundation spokesperson, was quoted as saying. She recommends patients who experience this symptom consult their doctors right away.

“If we see the narrowing of arteries in the legs, it’s often in the heart as well, hence the heart/leg connection,” Dr. Abramson said.

SOURCE: Presented to the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress, 2009