To prevent heart attack, stroke, amputation, and death, National “PAD Coalition” is formed

The Vascular Disease Foundation has taken the lead in creating a unique Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) Coalition in partnership with 14 other major national public health organizations and professional vascular societies.

At its inaugural meeting, the Coalition identified as a top priority the need for a unified, long-term national public awareness campaign about peripheral arterial disease (PAD). Another priority area is to coordinate PAD educational efforts to clinicians. These activities will be designed to improve the clinical outcomes of individuals with PAD. The inaugural meeting of the PAD Coalition was held on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) campus in Bethesda, MD, on June 17, 2004, in cooperation with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the NIH.

This important day-long meeting brought together vascular healthcare professionals from around the country to create the Coalition’s structure. The Coalition was first conceived of at a strategic planning meeting held in January 2003, at which initial consensus was reached and the rationale underlying the goals of such a national PAD awareness campaign was solidified. The PAD Coalition is co-chaired by Alan T. Hirsch, M.D., past-president of the Vascular Disease Foundation, and Marge Lovell, RN, CCRC, CVN, a current officer of the Foundation.

“Individuals with PAD have traditionally not enjoyed the healthcare opportunities afforded individuals with established heart disease. The beneficial impact of the Coalition and its public education campaign is thus expected to be particularly powerful”, said Dr. Hirsch, who added that members of every major PAD-focused healthcare organization will be working together to design accurate, science-based, PAD-focused educational messages.

Ms. Lovell said, “We should emphasize that the establishment of this unique vascular Coalition is precedent-setting, permitting us to amplify our common mission of serving the public.”

In addition to the Vascular Disease Foundation, participating organizations include the American Association for Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation; American College ofCardiology; American College of Physicians; American Diabetes Association; American Heart Association; American Podiatric Medical Association; American Radiological Nurses Association; Peripheral Vascular Surgery Society; Society for Clinical Vascular Surgery; Society of Interventional Radiology; Society for Vascular Medicine and Biology; Society for Vascular Nursing; Society for Vascular Surgery; and the Society of Vascular Ultrasound.

PAD is a highly prevalent disease characterized by blockages in the arteries of the legs. Individuals with PAD face a markedly increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and death. The build-up of plaque is usually a result of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries – the same condition that leads to heart artery blockages and heart attack. PAD affects 8-12 million Americans, and one in every five people over the age of 70 has the disease. Advanced age, smoking, diabetes, high blood cholesterol and hypertension are key risk factors. The most common and easily recognized symptom of PAD is discomfort, fatigue, or pain that occurs in the buttock, thigh, or calf muscles when walking, and that is promptly relieved with rest. This symptom is called “claudication”. Unfortunately, current data suggest that less than one-half of individuals with PAD do not know they have the disease and its corresponding increased risk of death. This is believed to be because many individuals with PAD do not experience typical leg symptoms. Additionally, the use of accurate and safe diagnostic tests for PAD remains relatively uncommon in most primary office practices. Early diagnosis of PAD can offer an opportunity to treat risk factors that can slow the progression of the disease and decrease the chance of a heart attack or stroke. Other treatments can decrease leg symptoms, prevent amputation, and improve quality of life.

The Vascular Disease Foundation is a nonprofit, public educational organization dedicated to increasing awareness of the prevention, diagnosis and management of vascular diseases. Its outstanding board of directors includes physicians, nurses, vascular sonographers, rehabilitation professionals, and clinical researchers who have been on the forefront of fighting vascular diseases for many years.

For more information on the Vascular Disease Foundation, or on vascular diseases, call 1-866-723-4636 or visit www.vdf.org.

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