Peripheral artery disease drives up heath care costs
PAD, or Peripheral Artery Disease, is a common and often debilitating condition in which blood flow to the legs is obstructed by plaque that blocks heart or brain arteries. It affects at least 8 million Americans and is considered a major, but less known, risk factor for heart attacks and stroke.
As baby boomers age, rates of PAD are expected to spike.New research, led by SPH epidemiologist and Medical School cardiologist Alan Hirsch, shows that each year the U.S. spends roughly $21 billion on PAD-related hospitalizations.
The researchers also found that hospitalizations and treatment costs for what some refer to as “heart attacks below the belt” increase substantially as the disease progresses, and that many patients experience repeat hospitalizations.
Study registry includes 24,000 people
For the study, researchers used data from the Reduction of Atherothrombosis for Continued Health (REACH) registry. The registry includes more than 24,000 individuals with atherothrombosis, the hardening or narrowing of the arteries due to plaque buildup.
“My co-investigators and I are concerned that this nation may no longer be able to sustain the high costs associated with treating a very common and preventable disease such as PAD, especially when the many invasive treatments are not always durable,” says Hirsch.
Hirsch and colleagues are working to lower PAD costs and improve treatments through a national multicenter clinical study called CLEVER (Claudication: Exercise vs. Endoluminal Revascularization), sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and managed by the University of Minnesota and Brown University.