Americans living with diabetes are at an increased risk for developing PAD, which disproportionately affects minority and underserved communities
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 highlighting the strong clinical link between peripheral artery disease (PAD) and diabetes this month during American Diabetes Month.
PAD is a life-threatening circulatory condition, which affects more than 18 million Americans. Also known as claudication, poor circulation, vascular disease, or hardening of arteries, PAD is a chronic condition, which causes narrowing or blockage of the vessels that carry blood from the heart to the legs. The primary cause of PAD is the buildup of plaque in the arteries.
“Diabetics are at an increased risk for developing PAD due to high risk factors such as high blood pressure and obesity, however many patients do not recognize the warning signs and delay seeking the care they need until it’s too late,” said Jeffrey G. Carr, MD, FACC, FSCAI, an Interventional Cardiologist and Endovascular Specialist and the physician lead on the CardioVascular Coalition. “Early diagnosis and clinically appropriate intervention of PAD are critically important for our patients who, if undiagnosed and untreated, can face limb loss as a result of their disease. Sadly, too many diabetic patients are simply not aware of PAD symptoms and risks.”
If not properly managed, both diabetes and PAD can lead to non-traumatic lower limb amputations, which data show lead to lower quality of life and increased risk for death. According to the National Limb Loss Information Center, nearly 80 percent of amputations due to diabetes are believed to be preventable.
Underserved communities are at an even greater risk for both diabetes and PAD. African Americans, for example, are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with PAD and are at an increased risk of complications from diabetes, according to research analyzing the prevalence of and risk factors for PAD in the United States.
While not every patient with diabetes experiences symptoms of PAD, the CVC urges patients to be aware of the risks. Other symptoms 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.
“American Diabetes Month is an opportunity for increased awareness of all risks associated with diabetes and related conditions for all Americans,” added Dr. Carr. “PAD, in particular, is a disease that too few Americans understand and recognize, and we are hoping to change that.”