Reports From the Field

Few older Americans know about peripheral arterial disease

The majority of older Americans know little about peripheral arterial disease (PAD), and many are not being screened for this life-threatening disease, a survey by the National Council on Aging has revealed.

The survey shows that two-thirds of Americans over 50 are not aware of the disease and that more than half of the respondents with symptoms associated with PAD are not being screened by their health care professionals.

Symptoms include leg pain, cramping, and exhaustion. Some people with the disease do not exhibit any symptoms.A simple test comparing blood pressure readings from a patient’s arm and ankle can detect PAD.

"Without treatment, those with PAD are at significantly increased risk to experience a stroke or heart attack, but the good news is that PAD is easily diagnosed and is treatable," says Robert Rosenson, MD, director of Preventive Cardiology at Northwestern University’s medical school.

For more information about PAD, see the Vascular Disease Foundation web site at www.vdf.org.