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Vol. LVIII, No. 24
December 1, 2006

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NHLBI Launches Campaign About Peripheral Arterial Disease

  NHLBI director Dr. Elizabeth Nabel speaks at PAD event.  
  NHLBI director Dr. Elizabeth Nabel speaks at PAD event.  

When you think about your legs, what first comes to mind? Maybe you think about how they keep you active. Or about how they look. You probably don’t immediately think about the health of your legs. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, through a recently launched awareness campaign, wants Americans over 50 to pay attention to their leg health and their risk for peripheral arterial disease (PAD).

PAD develops when arteries that become clogged with plaque limit blood flow to the legs. Just like clogged arteries in the heart, clogged arteries in the legs mean a person is at higher risk for having a heart attack or stroke.

NHLBI has partnered with the PAD Coalition, an alliance of more than 40 national organizations, to launch Stay in Circulation: Take Steps to Learn About PAD. This multi-year public awareness campaign encourages Americans to stay active and healthy by learning more about PAD, being alert to its signs and symptoms and talking to their health care providers about ways to reduce their risk.

Between 8 million and 12 million Americans over the age of 50 have PAD, but many may not know it because PAD doesn’t always have obvious symptoms. Even those who experience symptoms, such as fatigue, heaviness, pain and cramping in the leg muscles when walking that go away with rest, often think their symptoms are just a sign of aging and don’t tell their doctors about it. Those at risk for PAD include people over 50, particularly African Americans; those who smoke or have a history of smoking; those with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or those with a personal or family history of other vascular diseases such as heart attack or stroke.
The Stay in Circulation campaign debuted at a press conference downtown at the National Press Club.
The Stay in Circulation campaign debuted at a press conference downtown at the National Press Club.

The week of Sept. 18-22 was declared National Peripheral Arterial Disease Awareness Week by the U.S. Senate. That week, NHLBI director Dr. Elizabeth Nabel and PAD patient Rita Smith were interviewed by television and radio stations from across the country and NHLBI staff and members of the PAD Coalition were joined by patients and the media at the National Press Club to mark the official launch of the campaign.

“Raising awareness of PAD through the Stay in Circulation campaign is a priority for NHLBI,” said Nabel. “PAD is not an inevitable consequence of aging. Early detection and treatment of PAD are important for staying in circulation and preserving or restoring mobility.”

NHLBI also showcased the patient-education materials developed for the campaign, which include brochures and a poster in English and Spanish, radio and print public service announcements and an educational video in which patients shared their personal stories about living with PAD.

More information can be found at www.aboutpad. org. NIHRecord Icon

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