Washington, DC — The Peripheral Arterial Disease (P.A.D.) Coalition has launched a petition drive at padcoalition.org to urge President Obama and Congress to increase access to evidence-based health care for individuals with P.A.D.
Approximately 9 million Americans, including 1 in 5 men and 1 in 6 women in the Medicare population, have P.A.D. or clogged arteries of the legs. P.A.D. is a red flag that other arteries, including those in the heart and brain, are likely affected – increasing the risk of a heart attack, stroke and even death. It can also cause leg pain when walking and lead to disability, amputation, and poor quality of life.
Fortunately, heart attacks, strokes and deaths can be reduced and quality of life improved through the use of therapies recommended in national cardiovascular guidelines. However, many Americans with P.A.D. don’t receive this care until it’s too late.
“We have a system that will pay to treat a heart attack or an amputation caused by P.A.D., but will not pay for a simple, non-invasive test to diagnose P.A.D. in those at highest risk for having the disease,” stated Joshua Beckman, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Chair, P.A.D. Coalition’s Advocacy Committee. “It is critical that individuals with P.A.D. be identified so that cardiovascular risk reduction therapies can be initiated and lives can be saved.”
P.A.D. is easily diagnosed through the ankle-brachial index (ABI), a non-invasive, cost-effective test that compares the leg blood pressure to arm blood pressure. Medicare currently offers P.A.D. testing for patients with leg symptoms, however, P.A.D. is most often asymptomatic. P.A.D. care guidelines developed by leading vascular groups recommend testing in individuals at highest risk for having the disease, including adults over age 50 with a history of diabetes or smoking and all adults over 70 years of age.
The P.A.D. Coalition aims to collect at least ten thousand signatures and will deliver the petition to Congressional leadership.