Facts and Stats

September is Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) Awareness Month, and a time dedicated to raising awareness through the Save a Leg, Save a Life (SALSAL) Foundation’s White Sock Campaign.  The goal is to help educate the physician and patient community about PAD – a common, yet serious cardiovascular condition that can result in devastating consequences including heart attack, stroke, amputation, and early death if left untreated.1



  • PAD occurs when arteries in the legs become narrowed or blocked by plaque build-up, reducing blood flow to the limbs.



  • Peripheral artery disease, or PAD, affects at least 12 million people in the US2 and is found most commonly in people over age 50 with a history of smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease.3-6



  • Despite its prevalence, PAD is historically difficult to diagnose and treat as symptoms are often ignored, masked or confused with the typical aches and pains of aging.3,7-8 Symptoms may include:
    • Fatigue in the leg muscles (buttocks, thigh or calf) that occurs during activities such as walking or climbing stairs.
    • Pain in the legs and/or feet that disturbs sleep.
    • Sores or Wounds on toes, feet or legs that heal slowly, poorly or not at all.
    • Color Changes on the skin of the feet, including paleness or blueness.
    • Lower Temperature in one leg compared with the other leg.
    • Poor Nail Growth and decreased hair growth on toes and legs.
  • As a result, nearly 50 percent of patients with late-stage PAD are left untreated each year, placing them at greater risk of undergoing an amputation.11



  • PAD affects at least 12 million people in the US.2
  • About 95% of PAD patients have at least one other chronic disease, such as diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure.12
  • Because this disease is not limited to the legs, patients with PAD are also at greater risk of future heart attack and stroke.9,10
  • Up to 50% have unrecognized or masked symptoms and may progress directly to severe disease.12,13
  • Inhaling smoke damages your blood cells and function of your blood vessels, causing plaque to build up in your arteries. Smoker have up to 4 times greater risk of PAD.3,4
  • Poor glycemic control and long-term use of insulin can lead to PAD. Diabetics have up to 4 times greater risk of PAD and up to 5 times greater risk of amputation. 3,4,5,13
  • Elevated blood pressure (BP) raises the risk of developing plaque in the arteries. High BP is found in more than 65% of PAD patients.14,15
  • Excess cholesterol and fat in your blood creates plaque in arteries, reducing or blocking blood flow to your heart, brain or limbs. It is found in more than 60% of PAD patients.15
  • Aging plays a role in your risk of PAD. More than 1 in 10 people over age 65 have PAD.4,6,16



  1. Facts About Peripheral Arterial Disease. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/pad/docs/pad_extfctsht_general_508.pdf.
  2. Goodney, P. P., et al. (2015). JAMA Surg 150(1): 84-86.
  3. Falluji, N. and D. Mukherjee (2014). Angiology 65(2): 137-146.
  4. Criqui, M. H. and V. Aboyans (2015). Circ Res 116(9): 1509-1526.
  5. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/heart-disease/peripheral-arterial-disease.html. Accessed August 04, 2016.
  6. http://www.clevelandclinicmeded.com/medicalpubs/diseasemanagement/ cardiology/peripheral-arterial-disease/. Accessed August 04, 2016
  7. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/periperal-artery-disease/ symptoms-causes/dxc-20167421. Accessed August 04, 2016.
  8. McDermott, M. M., et al. (2008). Circulation 117 (19): 284-2491.
  9. Hirsch, A. T., et al. (2007). Circulation 116(18): 2086-2094.
  10. Hussein, A. A., et al. (2011). J Am Coll Cardiol 57(10): 1220-1225.
  11. Goodney, P. P., et al. (2012). Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes 5(1): 94-102.
  12. Nehler, M. R., et al. (2014). J Vasc Surg 60(3): 686-695 e682.
  13. Hirsch, A. T., et al. (2006). J Am Coll Cardiol 47(6): e1-e192.
  14. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/PeripheralArteryDisease/Peripheral-Artery-Disease-PAD_UCM_002082_SubHomePage.jsp. Accessed August 04, 2016.
  15. Selvin, E. and T. P. Erlinger (2004). Circulation 110(6): 738-743.
  16. Fowkes, F. G., et al. (2013). Lancet 382(9901): 1329-1340.