Peripheral Arterial Disease, or PAD, is a condition that causes restricted blood flow to the peripheral arteries, including your arms, legs and feet. When blood vessels are impeded or blocked they can limit the blood flow from supplying oxygen to and from the limbs. It is estimated that more than 202 million people worldwide have PAD and of those affected, approximately 50% are asymptomatic.1-2 With that in mind, BD is working diligently with clinicians and hospitals to get the word out about the disease during September, National PAD Awareness Month.
What is PAD?
PAD is a progressive disease, and in early stages, patients may have no noticeable symptoms. The lack of symptoms is only temporary and without treatment or diagnosis, symptoms can become more noticeable, severe, and progress at a faster rate. As PAD develops, it can lead to leg pain and wounds that won’t heal. Eventually, if left untreated, the disease can progress to advanced PAD and amputation becomes a real and serious risk.
This common circulatory problem that results in restricted blood flow is often caused by atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries). PAD can be worsened by things like smoking, poor diet, lack of exercise, age, genetics, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. While PAD cannot be cured, there are options for medical treatments and healthy lifestyle changes that can help improve blood flow and keep the disease from getting worse. Those at risk for PAD should see a physician without delay to further assist in the diagnosis, management, and treatment of PAD.
BD’s Focus on PAD
BD is one of the largest med tech companies in the world and has a Tempe-based peripheral intervention business unit that is focused on creating minimally invasive technologies. Their team of engineers, product managers, and clinical experts work closely with physicians and hospitals to create devices for treating patients with PAD including drug coated balloons, stents to hold vessels open, and special tools that remove vessel blockages. As an industry leader in developing solutions to address PAD, their focus goes beyond product innovation…they have an entire team of medical educators who partner with expert physicians that can provide training on our products to other doctors interested in advancing their skills. This education is key to making sure that more communities around the country and around the globe can learn from physicians who know our devices and are experienced in diagnosing, treating, and managing the long-term care of patients with PAD. “The physicians we work with understand that it is about a partnership with industry. Our teams are in cases on a daily basis, listen closely to issues physicians are trying to solve, and then are able to take those learnings and create innovative technologies to better help those physicians and the patients they serve. It’s incredibly gratifying to know that these solutions enable physicians to advance their procedures and help patients.” said Stephanie Klocke, VP of R&D at BDPI.
BD has also developed a dedicated and comprehensive Love Your Limbs™ PAD patient awareness campaign to educate and empower patients. It is a helpful resource to learn about PAD, what symptoms to look out for and expectations if managing PAD. Love Your Limbs™ helps connect patients with physicians by including an easy-to-use physician finder tool to identify nearby specialists. “Our Love Your Limbs™ program provides patients with helpful information, a sense of community, and a way to connect with physicians. As industry, our best approach is often partnering with other patient-facing organizations, like the National Kidney Foundation, to help spread awareness and connect people with physicians who can help them. If there isn’t a program, one needs to be created. Which is what we did with Love Your Limbs™ for PAD awareness.” said Paddy O’Brien, World Wide President of BDPI.
Spreading PAD Awareness
The discrepancy between the PAD care that patients receive often comes down to hospitals having the best possible tools and the physicians having the best possible training on product use and disease state…BD is trying to do its part on both fronts. “I recently spoke at a medical conference in New Orleans focused specifically on how to ensure that all communities have a PAD program. As a company, we are in cases every day and we see PAD programs that work well. We believe that our insights and our ability to share those successes can make a big impact in care.” said Paddy O’Brien, World Wide President of BDPI.
The Love Your Limbs™ program and website provides important patient information and stories that highlight the amazing efforts of leading physicians who are making an impact around the globe, and lastly gives patients a place where they can find doctors in their own neighborhood who can help. The Love Your Limbs™ team partners with doctors to conduct educational events where the interventionalists who treat PAD can share information with other physicians and care teams. They also support health fair events where people can learn more about PAD and the importance of getting screened early. During PAD Awareness Month, the BD team uses advertising, social media, and other outreach opportunities to help get the word out. “We find that one of the best ways to get someone’s attention is through storytelling. We make a big effort to go out and interview patients and physicians. We let them talk about the signs and symptoms of PAD, the possible treatments, and most importantly, tell the story of how addressing PAD has made a huge difference in their mobility, quality of life, and overall health.” said Nathan Comerford, Director of Strategic Communications at BDPI.
To extend its awareness efforts, BD will be working with the 117th Congress on addressing this disease. In April 2021, Congress introduced two important bills to improve the lives and treatment options of patients at risk for amputation due to PAD: Triple A Study Act and ARC Act. These bills focus on preventing amputation and improving diagnosis and treatment for the millions of Americans who are at risk of PAD. BD is very encouraged by Congress’ attention to PAD and supports this legislation.
If you suspect you or a loved one might have PAD, visit www.loveyourlimbs.com and explore the hub of PAD resources or find a physician located near you. Some common symptoms of PAD are painful leg cramping, numbness, weakness, heaviness or resting leg pain, cold feet or toes, dry and discolored skin, and chronic sores. Other common PAD risk factors are age, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, tobacco use, kidney disease, family history, and ethnicity. With a combination of PAD awareness, education, and early intervention, you can help patients get a leg up on PAD.
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1Fowkes, Gerald, R., Rudan, D, et al. (2013). The Lancet, 382 (9901), 1329-1340.
2Dhaliwal, G., Mukherjee, D. (2007). The International Journal of Angiology, 16 (2), 36-44.