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Peripheral Artery Disease: An Early Warning Sign of Heart Disease

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Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) is a common disease with eight to ten million persons being affected in the United States alone. In PAD, narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to the extremities which results in pain, particularly in the legs, when walking. PAD is often an early warning sign of a more serious underlying condition – atherosclerosis, which is a leading contributor to heart disease and stroke.

Despite the fact that persons with PAD are at a much greater risk for heart disease and stroke, the Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR) found that there was very limited awareness and treatment of PAD resulting is very low preventative measures. SIR founded Legs for Life® in 1997 in response to this growing need for education and prevention of PAD.

A unique collaboration between multiple organizations (Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR), Intervention of American Heart Association (AHA), American Diabetes Association, Council on Cardiovascular Radiology, Society for Vascular Nursing (SVN), and American Radiological Nurses Association (ARNA), Legs for Life is the largest (and longest running) national screening program dedicated solely to screening for vascular disease. The mission for Legs for Life is very simple:

– Education to the public, medical community and primary care physicians regarding PAD
– Identification of at-risk persons
– Promote collaboration and strong relationships between the various branches of the medical community
– Improve overall cardiovascular health

In order to accomplish its goals, Legs for Life provides online self-assessments, education materials and nationwide screening for vascular disease. (Although Legs for Life vascular screenings may be held at any time throughout the year, September is the Legs For Life National Screening Month for PAD Leg Pain and there are generally more screenings available at that time.). Most vascular screenings will consist of a questionnaire to assess risk and a simple test where the blood pressure in the legs is compared to the blood pressure rates in the arms (Ankle Brachial Index (ABI).

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.