Peripheral arterial disease rising sharply

New global research suggests that in just 10 years the number of people suffering from peripheral arterial disease (PAD) has risen dramatically.
Published in the Lancet, the research suggests a 23.5% rise in peripheral arterial disease from 164 million (2000) to 202 million (2010).

PAD affects the outer arteries of the body – most commonly the legs – and is a result of the build-up of fatty deposits (atherosclerosis) thickening the artery walls.

“Despite it’s alarming prevalence and cardiovascular risk implications little attention has been paid to this disease. Our findings are a call to action.” Comments Professor Gerry Fowkes from Edinburgh University.


The research is based on over individual 100 PAD studies which identified the disease using the simple ankle brachial index test. The key reasons for the rise appear to be aging populations and lifestyle changes with 35% of the increase coming in those aged over 80. It’s also reported to affect 1 in 10 aged 70 and 1 in 6 ages 80 on a global scale.


Perhaps unsurprisingly, the key risk factors leading to PAD are the same as those for cardiovascular disease in general: smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. With simple checks it’s a condition that is easy to detect and most importantly one that can be prevented and treated. Yet it’s worrying that so many people still don’t have an understanding of their blood pressure or cholesterol levels.

Professor Fowkes continues, “The dramatic growth in PAD is already a major public health challenge due to loss of mobility, diminished quality of life and the increased risk of heart attack and stroke. As the world’s population ages, PAD will become substantially more common and there is an urgent need to assess treatment and prevention strategies in both higher and lower income countries.”

Visit the circulation foundation website for more information on PAD