Awareness of peripheral artery disease is low among those at greatest risk for developing the condition, according to the American Heart Association.
Only 26% of adults age 50 and older are familiar with peripheral artery disease, a condition in which prevalence increases as people age and that affects about 8 million people.
“People with peripheral artery disease have an increased risk for heart attack and stroke,” said Tracy Stevens, American Heart Association spokesperson and professor of medicine – cardiologist with Saint Luke’s Cardiovascular Consultants in Kansas City, Missouri, USA. “The American Heart Association encourages people at risk to discuss peripheral artery disease with their healthcare provider to ensure early diagnosis and treatment.”
Certain risk factors for peripheral artery disease cannot be controlled, including aging, personal or family history of the disease, cardiovascular disease or stroke. However, the American Heart Association estimates that the following risk factors can control peripheral artery disease:
- Cigarette smoking: smokers may have four times the risk of peripheral artery disease than nonsmokers.
- Obesity: people with a body mass index of 25 kg/m2 or higher are more likely to develop heart disease and stroke even if they have no other risk factors.
- Diabetes mellitus: having diabetes puts people at greater risk of developing peripheral artery disease as well as other cardiovascular diseases.
- Physical inactivity: physical activity increases the distance that people with peripheral artery disease can walk without pain and also helps decrease the risk of heart attack or stroke.
- High blood cholesterol: high cholesterol contributes to the build-up of plaque in the arteries, which can significantly reduce the blood’s flow.
- High blood pressure: It is sometimes called “the silent killer” because it has no symptoms.