SOURCE: Philadelphia PAD Coalition

September 26, 2007 16:00 ET

PAD Epidemic in African Americans

PHILADELPHIA, PA--(Marketwire - September 26, 2007) - As a vascular specialist, Dr. Lee Kirksey realized that many amputations and life-threatening surgeries are avoidable if we identify the problem early. The most difficult thing that I do is tell a patient and their family that "It's too late. We can't save your leg."

PAD, or peripheral arterial disease, affects over 12 million people in the U.S., and there are 150,000 leg amputations per year in the U.S. and Europe. PAD is the narrowing or blocking of arteries outside the heart, most commonly the blood vessels of the legs. The incidence of PAD is increasing because diabetes, one of the risk factors, is increasing at staggering rates in young adults and African Americans.

A 1996 published study in the Journal Diabetes Care found that the rate of diabetes-related amputations for blacks was 64% higher than the rate for whites. "We don't know exactly why, but study after study confirms that an African American diabetic, male or female, is more likely to require amputation," says Dr. Kirksey, Director of Penn Woundcare of The University of Pennsylvania Healthcare. "We need to address this disparity in healthcare."

PAD may cause muscle pain in the legs with exertion and over time may lead to disability, amputation, a poor quality of life and loss of independence. Most patients with PAD are not aware of their diagnosis or the seriousness of their disease.

The desire to improve awareness prompted Dr. Lee Kirksey to establish the non-profit organization The African American PAD Coalition. "If we can improve awareness within the general public and among first line healthcare providers, we will be able to identify PAD earlier and treat the process much more effectively," he said.

The good thing is that PAD can be detected by a safe, accurate and inexpensive test called the Ankle Brachial Index (ABI). It's a simple test similar to getting your blood pressure measured. Remarkable for a disease that, when left untreated, has such life altering consequences. The presence of PAD is also a predictor of heart attack or stroke. . "If we can make this a collaborative effort between healthcare providers, the public and community organizations, we can impact this epidemic disease." Dr. Kirksey says, hopefully. Since one in ten African Americans above age fifty-five have PAD, this will be an opportunity to shine a spotlight on a disease that affects nearly every African American family.

The African American PAD Coalition of is a charitable, non profit organization. Dr. Lee Kirksey, Founder of The Coalition is Director of The Penn Woundcare Center of The University of Pennsylvania Healthcare. He is a board certified vascular surgeon. The Coalition is dedicated to improving PAD Awareness within the African American community through collaborative community activities, outreach programs and partnerships. or

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