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The Circulation Foundation has launched an online vascular disease risk checker to mark the second annual Vascular Disease Awareness Week, which will run from 7th to 13th March 2011.
The awareness campaign, entitled ‘Are your Legs Killing You?’, will see a range of activities in public places and health centres across the UK, dedicated to raising awareness of vascular disease, and in particular, peripheral arterial disease (PAD).
As part of the awareness week, the Circulation Foundation has developed an online Vascular Risk Checker, allowing users to quickly calculate their risk of vascular disease by answering a few simple questions on their lifestyle habits.
PAD, also known as peripheral vascular disease (PVD), is one of the fastest-growing and most pervasive diseases of our time, and is estimated to affect 27 million individuals in Europe and North America.
However, only around a third of these patients have any symptoms at all. PAD occurs when blood vessels become clogged with a build up of fatty deposits, limiting circulation to areas of the body including the legs, feet and kidneys.
In its early stages, PAD is a silent and symptomless disease, but can require serious surgery or even the amputation of a leg if not diagnosed and treated early.
Those with diabetes are twice as likely to develop PAD and so are more at risk of amputation.
There were 10,763 amputations due to diabetes or arterial disease in England in 2007/08 – an increase of approximately 600 on the previous year[iii] – highlighting the need for early referral and treatment.
In addition to diabetes, risk factors for PAD include smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, a family history of PAD and genetic predisposition.
Jeannette Thompson, a 57-year-old PAD patient from Newscastle comments: ‘‘I had an operation to help my PAD a decade ago.
“I gave up smoking and my mobility and quality of life greatly improved. However, when I started smoking again, the PAD came back. I had to undergo another by-pass operation, which meant I had to spend two weeks in hospital.’’
Vascular Disease Awareness Week coincides with the Annual Spring Meeting, held by the Circulation Foundation in conjunction with the Vascular Society on 10th March at the King’s Fund, London.
Health professionals at the meeting will address the growing burden of leg disease and diabetes on the NHS, advocating a multidisciplinary approach to tackle the challenges of diabetic foot care and vascular disease.
There will also be more than 30 regional events across the UK, such as sponsored walks, where vascular nurse specialists will be on hand to offer advice and information on vascular disease.
Sir Roger Moore, Patron of The Circulation Foundation, comments: “PAD can often go undiagnosed and people may be unaware of the potential consequences of the condition.
“We want to raise awareness of leg problems so that more patients – particularly those in high-risk groups – are diagnosed and referred for treatment in the crucial early stages of vascular disease.”
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