Why would a condition that is well-known, easily diagnosed, and readily managed be ignored? In a new paper “Peripheral Patients” Dr Tony Hockley sets out a five-point plan to help change this situation, preventing unnecessary amputations, deaths, and hospital costs.
Dr Hockley’s research team looked at the status of peripheral arterial disease (PAD) in a global sample of 14 countries. They found that despite the presence of clear guidelines for the management of PAD, and preventative strategies that are widely used in other presentations of vascular disease, PAD patients are left undiagnosed and untreated. Analysis for England showed that 10-15% of people diagnosed with PAD die within five years from a cardiovascular cause, and another 20% suffer a heart attack or stroke but survive.
According to the author, the relative neglect of PAD may be the result of multiple prejudices: That a disease that often appears in the legs is less important than one that appears around the heart, that PAD might be “self-inflicted” because of its association with obesity, or simply that it has tended to be a disease of age. But with more than 200 million people with PAD globally it is an important disease, with important consequences for those affected and for health systems.
The paper concludes: “It is rare in health policy that so much can be changed simply through better use of existing knowledge, and the implementation of existing policies.”