The call for improved access to early detection and diagnostic screenings for peripheral artery disease in underserved areas underscored during National Minority Health Month
WASHINGTON – This National Minority Health Month, the Cardiovascular Coalition (CVC), a consortium of physicians, care providers, advocates, and manufacturers working to improve awareness, prevention and treatment of peripheral artery disease (PAD), urges policymakers to set up an Intragovernmental Workgroup on amputation reduction since minority communities are disproportionately affected by non-traumatic, non-emergent lower limb amputations resulting from PAD.
The CVC urges Congress to direct the Administration to convene an Intragovernmental Workgroup on amputation reduction, which should focus on increasing at-risk patients’ access to screening for PAD, which is the cause of 85 percent of the 200,000 non-traumatic limb amputations in the U.S. each year and disproportionally impacts people of color.
Minority communities are most at risk of developing PAD, a common complication of diabetes that occurs when fatty deposits in the arteries restrict the blood flow to the limbs, resulting in pain in the legs, poor healing of diabetic ulcers, gangrene, and eventual amputation. According to the American Diabetes Association, African Americans are 1.7 times more likely than non-Hispanic whites to have diabetes. Data show African-American patients with diabetes are over three times more likely to have their limbs surgically removed than whites. Moreover, Native Americans in the west and Hispanics, are twice as likely and 75 percent more likely, respectively, to suffer from PAD as their Caucasian counterparts.
Further, according to projections from the American Heart Association, in the next two decades, minorities will have the highest rates of cardiovascular disease and PAD will become the new number one cardiovascular challenge due to the disproportionate prevalence of obesity and diabetes among the patient group, which both have the potential to change the health trajectory of minorities.
“It is imperative that policymakers recognize the often-overlooked PAD epidemic that causes far too many Americans—especially Americans of color—to lose their lives and their limbs,” said Dr. Foluso Fakorde, MD, a practicing interventional cardiologist and co-chair of the PAD Initiative for the Association of Black Cardiologists. “National Minority Health Month is the perfect time for policymakers to turn their attention to this growing crisis and work to increase access to early vascular screenings for the more than 30 million Americans living with diabetes and 84.1 million living with prediabetes who are at greatest risk of developing PAD and facing amputation.”
In addition to advocating for an intragovernmental workgroup, through its work with the PAD Task Force, the CVC is also calling on the Department of Health & Human Services to work with the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) to develop screening protocols for at-risk patients.
Finally, the CVC calls for policies that require providers to document vascular evaluations in the 12 months prior to having patients undergo non-traumatic, non-emergent amputations. Failure to perform arterial testing should result in non-payment for the amputation by Medicare and private payors.
In addition to April being National Minority Health Month, it is also designated as Limb Loss Awareness Month.