USA is all set to start a free screening program to detect peripheral arterial disease (PAD) on time to prevent loss of legs from diabetes amputations. Called Legs For Life® this program can help detect the onset of the condition early and can help to reduce the chances of having an amputation by half.
People with diabetes are especially susceptible to PAD because diabetes affects every vascular bed in the body and it increases the risk for accelerated atherogenesis—the formation of plaque build-up in the lining of the arteries.
Because atherosclerosis is a systemic disease, people with PAD are likely to have blocked arteries in other areas of their body. Over time, the plaque builds up in the arteries and blocks the smaller arteries first, such as in the legs. This causes decreased blood flow to the legs, which can result in pain when walking, and eventually gangrene and amputation.
Eventually the larger arteries, such as those in the heart or the carotid artery to the brain, become blocked as well. Thus, PAD in the legs is an early warning for future life-threatening vascular disease. If undetected, peripheral arterial disease can lead to amputation and increase a person's risk of having a heart attack and stroke. The progression of PAD results in death for about one-third of patients.
Screening is essential because one-third of diabetics have peripheral arterial disease, but most do not present classic symptoms—and by the time they do notice they have a problem, they are often facing amputation, kidney damage, or stroke
During the Legs For Life screening, an ankle brachial index (ABI) test is used to detect PAD. This quick, painless test compares the blood pressure in the legs to the blood pressure in the arms to determine how well the blood is flowing and whether further tests are needed. Additionally during Legs For Life, interventional radiologists screen for related vascular diseases, including abdominal aortic aneurysm, and carotid artery disease that can lead to stroke.