Features December 2007 Issue

Peripheral Arterial Disease More Common Than You Think

Medications and interventions can relieve the pain and improve the outlook for a condition that strikes nearly one out of five people age 60 and older.

Its symptoms can be severe pain in the legs and feet, skin discoloration, and toe and foot sores that donít heal. But alarmingly, peripheral arterial disease (PAD) can go undiagnosed for years. Its sufferers often chalk up the pain, which is often exacerbated by walking, to arthritis or aches that accompany aging. In fact, a study published in the Sept. 18 issue of the journal Circulation showed that about 75 percent of Americans surveyed recently knew little or nothing about PAD. The poll was taken of 2,051 people age 50 and over. "Itís a horribly unrecognized disease," says Cleveland Clinic cardiologist Heather Gornik, MD.

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