Philips-supported campaign wants Americans to 'get a pulse on PAD' amid ignorance of the disease

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is one of the leading causes of non-trauma-related amputations, but 70% of Americans have never heard of this disease, according to a new survey.

To help change this, four leading heart and vascular societies, in collaboration with industry sponsors including Philips, have united to form the PAD Pulse Alliance. The alliance aims to increase awareness about the condition and encourage patients to discuss their symptoms with their doctors.

PAD is a common condition where a buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries restricts blood supply to leg muscles, which can cause leg pain, and is a form of cardiovascular disease. The PAD Pulse Alliance said in a press release that this contributes to about 400 amputations performed each day in the U.S.

To boost awareness, the campaign has launched a new website called “Get a Pulse on PAD” that sets out resources for patients to use and asks visitors to “be your own PAD champion.”

Linked to the campaign is also a new survey which has shown that up to 70% of Americans do not know about the disease.

The survey, conducted among 1,000 Americans in the general population along with two additional groups comprising 500 individuals from the Black community and 500 from the Hispanic community, revealed that nearly 75% of Black and Hispanic adults surveyed either have or know someone with diabetes, high blood pressure or is a smoker. Surprisingly, only 30% believe they could be at risk.

“This is in stark contrast to real-world impact,” the alliance said in the release, as Black people are twice as likely to suffer from PAD and up to four times more likely to undergo an amputation compared to white people. Hispanics present with more progressive PAD leading to worse outcomes including greater risk of amputation.

Nearly all the survey respondents (91%) would dismiss pain as just part of getting older, but pain in your leg when walking that goes away with rest is one of the first symptoms of PAD.

Meanwhile, just over half (53%) of respondents would wait more than a week with ongoing leg pain before calling their doctor.

“Screening for PAD is easy, quick, and non-invasive. Yet, this survey confirmed that critical patient-provider conversations addressing common symptoms aren't happening,” said Society of Interventional Radiology President Alda L. Tam, M.D., an interventional radiologist and professor in the Department of Interventional Radiology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, in the release.

“If we can educate more people on the risk factors and early warning signs associated with PAD, it's our hope we can foster dialogue earlier between providers and patients to kick off screening and treatment, ultimately preventing amputations and saving lives.”

The alliance is sponsored by Gore, Shockwave Medical and Philips, the last two of which market medical tech for cardiovascular disease and PAD.