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Diabetes Obes Metab. 2002 Mar;4 Suppl 2:S1-6.

Classification, epidemiology, risk factors, and natural history of peripheral arterial disease.

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University of Palermo, Viale delle Alpi, 86-90144, Palermo, Italy.


Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a clinical condition that has often been neglected. The clinical diagnosis of PAD may be made on the basis of an accurate history by using the WHO/Rose Questionnaire or the Edinburgh Questionnaire. From a clinical point of view, PAD may be classified into four stages. The PARTNERS Programme (PAD Awareness, Risk and Treatment: NEw Resources for Survival) is a recent study based on a partnership to improve PAD care. In this population, the prevalence of patients who were PAD+/CVD- was approximately 12% in males and 15% in females; PAD+/CVD+ approximately 18% in males and 14% in females; PAD-/CVD+ 28% in males and 17% in females; and finally, patients without vascular disease (PAD-/CVD-) 42% in males and 54% in females. The lessons derived from the PARTNERS Programme Study were informative; PAD is detectable in routine practice, using a simple, inexpensive, always available, clinical test such as calculation of the ankle-brachial pressure index (ABPI). Fewer than half of individuals with PAD are aware of their condition, while physicians are unaware of the presence of PAD in 70% of their patients with the condition. Diabetics and smokers are at high risk for PAD. Diabetes is present in about 41% of patients with PAD and a history of smoking (> 10 pack for year) is present in over 63% of patients with PAD. Antiplatelet therapy is taken by only about half of patients with PAD. Finally, the lack of diagnosis and treatment means that PAD patients remain at elevated risk of heart attack and stroke. Efforts must be made to diffuse this information to improve the diagnosis and treatment of PAD to reduce the risk of future fatal and nonfatal cardiac and cerebrovascular events.

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