Leading experts call for increased access to advanced interventional care to prevent amputations and reduce healthcare costs
Washington, DC – The CardioVascular Coalition (CVC) today hosted a Capitol Hill briefing bringing together leading physicians and policy experts to discuss Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) in America and the need for policy solutions that support access to clinically appropriate care to reduce avoidable amputations. As revascularization technologies have rapidly advanced, access to interventional care has become paramount to saving both life and limb for patients diagnosed with PAD.
Currently, PAD affects more than 18 million Americans, but estimates suggest only two million receive a diagnosis. As a result, approximately 160,000 to 180,000 of these patients will undergo amputation of a limb as a result of PAD-related complications each year. In fact, 25 percent of patients diagnosed with the worst stage of PAD will have an amputation. It has also been documented that minority populations, including African-American and Hispanics, are twice as likely to face the threat of an amputation resulting from PAD.
Panelists noted however, that major technological advances have been made in recent years that when used at the appropriate time can greatly reduce the number of amputations among vulnerable populations. For instance, a study at one freestanding vascular care center saw that with the increased use of angiography, – a medical imaging technique used to visualize the inside of blood vessels – the incidence of major amputations fell 75 percent.
“We’ve made great strides in diagnosing, treating and preventing complications of PAD in the last 30 years,” stated Jeff Carr MD, Founding and Immediate Past President of the Outpatient Endovascular and Interventional Society. “But there is still vast room for improvement. As an immediate next step, we should enact policies that require vascular evaluation by a trained specialist before non-traumatic amputations are performed. We have the necessary tools and technology – now we must ensure that all patients reap the benefits.”
When patients receive access to a PAD specialist and appropriate intervention, their quality of life can improve significantly. Indeed, the mortality rate for those whose limbs are saved drops to just 16 to 24 percent compared to 48 to 71 percent for those who undergo an amputation. Eighty percent of those whose care prevents an amputation are able to walk again, while 60 to 80 percent who have an amputation are never able to walk again.
In addition to improved health outcomes, early intervention for patients with PAD reduces spending to the overall healthcare system. A recent Avalere analysis found that reducing the number of Medicare patients with major amputations by half through the encouragement of revascularization could reduce Medicare spending by $2 billion over 10 years.
“As the medical and health policy communities continue to work together to strengthen our healthcare delivery system, we look forward to partnering with policy makers to prioritize solutions that improve access to quality healthcare for all patients with PAD,” added Carr.