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Diseased leg arteries may trigger heart attack, stroke

Posted May 02 2009 12:00am
Diseased leg arteries may trigger heart attack, stroke
2009-04-29 12:53:58
New York, April 29 (IANS) Early detection of peripheral arterial disease (PAD) can help prevent the loss of lower limbs and possibly heart attack or stroke.

PAD is a condition in which plaque blocks arteries of the leg, restricting blood flow and impairs one's ability to walk or exercise. It affects eight million people in the US.

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is prevalent in patients with PAD, which is under-diagnosed in the primary care setting. But a new study found that it is often overlooked even in patients with known heart disease under a cardiologist's charge.

Led by Issam D. Moussa of New York Presbyterian Hospital, the study involved 800 patients with ischemic heart disease (reduced blood flow to the heart) who were to undergo coronary angiography and/or intervention. They were either at least 70 years old, or between the ages of 50 and 69 and had a history of diabetes mellitus and/or tobacco use.

Researchers determined if patients had PAD by calculating the Ankle-Brachial Index, the ratio of the blood pressure in the lower legs to blood pressure in the arms. The Ankle-Brachial Index is normally the first test administered to patients in cases where PAD is suspected.

Patients also answered questionnaires on PAD awareness and functional status. The results showed that approximately one out of six patients had previously unrecognised PAD, despite being under the care of a cardiovascular specialist.

Researchers point out that this includes only those with previously undiagnosed PAD and does not represent the total prevalence of PAD in patients with heart disease, which is actually much higher, said a Presbyterian release.

'The combination of physician's lack of awareness and lack of symptoms among patients results in failure to diagnose PAD, even in patients who are at high risk,' the researchers stated.

The study is slated for publication in the May issue of Catheterisation and Cardiovascular Interventions.
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