Vascular care leaders call for policies to prevent amputation without arterial testing, increase PAD awareness, support screening for at-risk populations and promote multidisciplinary care
WASHINGTON – The CardioVascular Coalition (CVC), a leading group of community-based cardiovascular and endovascular care providers, physicians, and manufacturers created to advance community-based solutions designed to improve awareness, prevention, and intervention of vascular disease, is urging healthcare leaders, policymakers, patient advocates and other stakeholders to join them in recognizing September as Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) Awareness Month, a time designated to increasing awareness about the disease and calling attention to the need for a national initiative to reduce preventable PAD-related lower limb amputations.
PAD is a life-threatening circulatory condition, which affects as many as 18 million Americans, many of whom are at risk for non-traumatic amputation if their condition is left undiagnosed and untreated. In fact, data suggest as many as 180,000 amputations are performed in the US each year, including 43,000 Medicare patients, which increases healthcare costs, harms patient quality of life and significantly increases patient mortality.
“As a public health crisis, PAD not only results in tens of thousands of preventable amputations, it also disproportionately impacts ethnic and racial minorities and costs taxpayers billions in additional spending,” said Jeffrey G. Carr, MD, FACC, FSCAI, an Interventional Cardiologist and Endovascular Specialist and the physician lead on the CardioVascular Coalition. “It is time for policy makers, healthcare professionals and the beneficiary communities to come together to adopt a national strategy that successfully increases understanding of this disease, improves patient access to clinically-appropriate interventional care and prevents amputation when a patient’s limb can be spared.”
Specifically, the CVC looks forward to working with both the Congress and the Administration to advance an initiative that will successfully lead to amputation reduction across the US, particularly among the Medicare population. Four key tenets of such an initiative should include:
- No amputation without arterial testing
- Multi-disciplinary approach
- PAD awareness programs
- PAD screening for at-risk beneficiaries
Significant racial and geographic disparities in PAD-related amputation rates suggest that there is great opportunity for reducing amputation among these populations. African, Hispanic and Native Americans are two to four times more likely to undergo a lower-limb amputation due to PAD because of increased prevalence of diabetes, obesity and other risk factors as well as reduced access to screening and interventional procedures.
While not every patient experiences symptoms of PAD, the CVC urges patients to be aware of the symptoms, which include leg pain, numbness, tingling, or coldness in the lower legs or feet, and sores of infections of the feet or legs that heal slowly.