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Can J Cardiol. 2009 Jan;25(1):39-45.

Peripheral arterial disease: lack of awareness in Canada.

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  • 1London Health Sciences Centre, University of Western Ontario, 800 Commissioners Road East, London, Ontario, Canada.



Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a common manifestation of systemic atherosclerosis and is associated with a high risk of stroke, myocardial infarction and cardiovascular death. PAD also fosters major morbidity by causing claudication, functional impairment, disability and amputation. PAD is largely unrecognized and under-treated compared with other cardiovascular diseases. The public health impact of PAD, as a contributor to Canadian national rates of heart attack, stroke, amputation, death and disability, will be challenging to address if the public is unaware of this common cardiovascular disease.


To assess public knowledge of PAD in Canada.


A cross-sectional, population-based telephone survey of 501 adults 50 years of age and older (mean age 64.4 years) was conducted using random digit dialing. The survey assessed demographics and risk factors of the study population and knowledge of PAD causes and consequences.


Survey respondents reported a high prevalence of atherosclerotic risk factors including high blood pressure (43%), high blood cholesterol (37%), diabetes (12%) and smoking history (18% current and 49% former smokers). Only 36% of respondents reported familiarity with PAD, which was significantly lower than other cardiovascular diseases or risk factors. Knowledge of perceived consequences of PAD was low and knowledge gaps were more pronounced in older, less educated and lower income respondents.


The Canadian public is largely unaware of PAD as a prevalent systemic manifestation of atherosclerosis and its associated morbidity and mortality. National PAD awareness programs should be instituted to increase PAD knowledge to levels comparable with other cardiovascular diseases and risk factors.

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