Heart Disease Patients: Ask for PAD Screening Now!

April 30, 2009

(ChattahBox)–Researchers have found that Peripheral arterial disease or PAD is under diagnosed in patients with heart disease at an alarming rate, even when patients receive regular care from a cardiologist. Coronary artery disease puts patients at risk for developing PAD, which blocks the arteries providing blood supply to the legs.

Complications from PAD are severe, ranging from pain when walking to actual limb loss. Untreated PAD can also be deadly, causing heart attacks and strokes.

Lead researcher, Dr. Issam D. Moussa of New York Presbyterian Hospital, conducted a study on nearly 800 patients undiagnosed with PAD with ischemic heart disease, who were either at least 70 years old, or between the ages of 50 and 69 and with a history of either diabetes mellitus and/or tobacco use.

This particular study group was at a high risk for developing PAD and yet, one out of six participants had an undiagnosed case of PAD. All study participants were receiving regular care and treatment from a specialist.

Researchers found that many of the patients didn’t show early symptoms of PAD, which are limping and leg pain. A surprising number of women in the study were found to have PAD, which surprised the researchers, as it’s thought of a disease that affects mostly men.

With eight million cases of PAD in the U.S. every year, causing serious problems, it’s important for high-risk patients to be screened for the condition, even if presenting with no symptoms.

Undiagnosed lingering PAD can result in limb loss and heart attacks. It’s vital that heart patients not diagnosed with PAD ask their doctors for a screening. The American Heart Association is now recommending that doctors screen patients with heart disease for PAD.

The entire study is available in the journal of The Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions.

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