More than 3 million Americans ignore leg ache, pain or cramps during walking or exercise as simply signs of aging, but they could have an easily diagnosed and treated disease that could be incapacitating.
Peripheral arterial disease is a narrowing or blockage of arteries, generally in the lower abdomen or extremities and especially in the legs. The most common cause is atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.P.A.D. most often afflicts people over 50 and has most commonly hit men, though women also are at increased risk because more women are smoking. Other risk factors include diabetes, hypertension and high fat levels in the blood.
"P.A.D. is easily treated if detected in its early stages," said Dr. Charles Kilo of Washington University School of Medicine.
LEG ALERT, a 3-year-old program established by the National Council on the Aging Inc., and Hoechst-Roussel Pharmaceuticals Inc., has screened over 34,000 people. The NCOA and Hoechst-Roussel, which makes a drug that increases blood flow, also have prepared a booklet describing P.A.D. and what to do about it.
-For a copy of "Step Lively," send a stamped, self-addressed, business-size envelope to CMC-PK, Department PAD, P.O. Box 830, Andover, N.J. 07821.