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Study Identifies Gaps in the Documentation of the Burden of Peripheral Artery Disease

August 11, 2022
by Elisabeth Reitman

Nearly half of U.S. adults with peripheral artery disease, or PAD, have no symptoms. Although the prevalence of PAD is growing, clinician and patient awareness of PAD is limited. Carlos Mena-Hurtado, MD, associate professor of medicine (cardiology) and Kim Smolderen, PhD, associate professor of medicine (cardiology and psychiatry) and co-directors of the Vascular Medicine OutcomeS (VAMOS) research program, hope to reduce the burden of undetected and undertreated PAD.

The disease is caused by narrowed arteries that reduces blood flow to the limbs, especially the lower limbs. The condition is associated with excess mortality and cardiovascular and limb events. The national study is the largest PAD screening effort to date. Their findings are published in AJPM Focus.

The authors collected deidentified claims data from Optum Care between 2017 to 2019. The team evaluated all-cause mortality, major cardiovascular events, and major adverse limb events for 192,500 Medicare beneficiaries 65 years or older. The evidence showed that the prevalence of PAD was considerable. PAD was identified in 1 in 3 individuals. Undetected PAD was also associated with a 20 percent greater risk of mortality within one to two years after the screening result. Likewise, major cardiovascular events and major adverse limb events were significantly greater. The study suggests that implementing a nationwide screening effort and other preventive strategies could identify important opportunities to further address the risk of chronic disease among older adults.

Submitted by Elisabeth Reitman on August 11, 2022