News & Events

Added to My Toolbox
Removed from My Toolbox
Added to My Toolbox
Removed from My Toolbox
Nov 06, 2013

Peripheral Artery Disease: A Global Problem

Recent study estimates the worldwide impact of PAD in low, middle and high-income countries.

Peripheral artery disease has become a global problem in the 21st century, according to a paper recently published in The Lancet.

This paper analyzed results from 34 studies, all of which collected information from individuals living with peripheral artery disease (PAD) regionally and globally. Using this data, authors sought to determine whether there were differences in the risk factors and impact of PAD in low- and middle-income countries compared to high-income countries.

Among the 34 studies included in this analysis, 22 contained data from high-income countries and 12 were conducted in low or middle-income countries. After analyzing characteristics of the 9,400 patients with PAD included in the study, researchers found that risk for PAD among men and women was similar across the board and increased with age, regardless of income. However, in low- to middle-income countries, women suffered from PAD more than men, especially at younger ages (between 45–49 years old). Interestingly, researchers also found that the major risk factors for PAD among all countries included smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

It’s estimated that 202 million people were living with PAD in 2010, 70% of which are from low- to middle-income countries. And in the last 10 years, the number of individuals living with PAD increased by 29% in low- to middle-income countries and by 13% in high-income countries.

Based on study findings, authors advocate for further research to improve treatment and prevention strategies for PAD. PAD drastically increases risk for heart attack and stroke, but there are ways to reduce risk of complications through medications and lifestyle changes. Given the prevalence of PAD, improving treatment and prevention could minimize the impact of PAD across the globe and help patients live healthier, longer.

Questions for You to Consider

  • How does peripheral artery disease impact cardiovascular risk?
  • A person with PAD has a six to seven times greater risk of CAD, heart attack, stroke, or transient ischemic attack ("mini stroke") than the rest of the population. If a person has heart disease, he or she has a 1 in 3 chance of having blocked arteries in the legs. Early diagnosis and treatment of PAD, including screening high-risk individuals, are important to prevent disability and save lives. PAD treatment may stop the disease from progressing and also reduce the risk of heart attack, heart disease, and stroke.
  • What are the warning signs of PAD?

  • The first inkling that you have PAD is often a painful cramp in the calf or thigh that occurs repeatedly when you walk, but disappears when you’re at rest.  This symptom is known as intermittent claudication.  People with PAD often curtail their activity to avoid further pain. However, inactivity only worsens the condition, creating a downward spiral.

    As PAD becomes more advanced, other symptoms may develop including:

    • Aching or burning in your feet and toes, especially when lying down at night
    • Redness or other color changes to the skin on your feet
    • Skin on the feet that feels cool to the touch
    • Sores on your toes or feet that do not heal

Health Log


Walking Toward a Better Quality of Life

Walking improves quality of life in patients with diabetes and peripheral artery disease.

Family History and Peripheral Artery Disease

Family history could more than double risk of developing PAD.



Use CardioSmart to check your BMI and Heart Disease Risk. Learn more »