Racial Disparities in Vascular Care


Recent news coverage documents in detail how minority populations, particularly African Americans, are more likely to develop peripheral artery disease (PAD). Nationally, estimates suggest as many as 20 million Americans are living with PAD, with African Americans more than twice as likely as non- Hispanic whites to have the disease.

PAD is more common in African Americans than any other racial or ethnic group because the greatest risk factors, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. African Americans also have a higher prevalence of asymptomatic PAD (i.e., evidence of disease without leg symptoms), putting them at increased risk for delays in care.

If not properly diagnosed and treated, PAD can result in non-traumatic, lower limb amputation. African Americans are up to four times more likely to have an amputation than white Americans. African Americans are far more likely than whites to receive an amputation rather than revascularization or other clinical intervention, even after accounting for differences in comorbid conditions, including diabetes.

Lawmakers in Congress have started the PAD Congressional Caucus to educate Congress and communities about PAD while supporting legislative activities to improve PAD research, education, and treatment, with the goal of preventing non-traumatic amputations due to PAD and other related diseases.

Further, advocates are urging the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) to revisit its recommendation on PAD screening and review the data as it relates to PAD screening for at-risk populations, including those with a history of smoking, diabetes, and other cardiovascular diseases. By recognizing that at-risk populations are more vulnerable to PAD than the general population, USPSTF should seize the opportunity to improve patient outcomes, reduce long-term healthcare costs, and eliminate racial disparities in the cardiovascular space.