Peripheral Artery Disease, also known as PAD, is a form of atherosclerosis, just like strokes and most forms of heart attacks. Peripheral arteries are the ones that carry blood to the legs and other body parts. Although heart attacks and strokes get most of the attention, PAD is also a major health problem, and should not be ignored. Center for Vascular Medicine – Columbia – Columbia Vascular Physician is one of the authority sites on this topic.
PAD can cause serious problems like gangrene, the loss of limbs, and even death. It’s most common in the legs, and early symptoms can include numbness, cramp like muscular discomfort, and tingling. It is common in older adults and approximately 20% of everyone over age 75 is affected. It is uncommon under the age of 50, with 3% of Americans under age 50 being affected.
A Harvard based study has shown that moderate drinking reduces the risk of developing PAD in males. 22,000 male American doctors were followed in this study starting in the early 1980s. After accounting for other factors, men who had one drink or more daily were 26% less likely to develop PAD than men who drank less. This shouldn’t be surprising since moderate drinking has also been shown to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and possibly strokes as well. The study did not follow females however one could extrapolate data.
However drinking itself has health risks of course, and it is recommended that men who drink restrict themselves to no more than a couple of drinks daily. As I’m having a glass of wine as I drink this I can feel good about it.
Some highlights of the guidelines include recommended questions and observations that can uncover hidden signs of peripheral arterial disease; recommendations on when an aneurysm should be treated with surgery or catheter-based therapy, as well as when “watchful waiting” is the best way; among other things.