We’re Here to Stand Against Amputation with You

A lesser known health condition is making a big impact in the U.S. Every year, about 160,000 Americans undergo an amputation due to peripheral artery disease (PAD).

That is a significant number for one health condition, and it’s staggering considering that it represents more amputations than all U.S. war-related amputations since the Civil War.

PAD is a common and often underdiagnosed circulatory disease where blood flow to the legs and feet is restricted by the narrowing of blood vessels due to plaque buildup. Left untreated, PAD can lead to amputation. This puts you or a loved one’s quality of life and long-term health at serious risk.

Amputations result from a variety of factors, including underlying conditions, late-stage diagnosis and healthcare disparities.

  • 73,000 amputations per year are patients with diabetes12
  • The risk for amputation is 10 times greater in patients who have both PAD and diabetes versus those who have PAD alone12
  • Critical limb ischemia (CLI) — the advanced form of PAD — carries a high risk of lower limb amputation estimated in 10% to 40% of patients60
  • African Americans are up to 4 times more likely to have an amputation due to complications of diabetes and PAD than Caucasian Americans61

How to get the best care for PAD

Many people dismiss early PAD symptoms, like pain while walking or cold feet. Instead of talking with a health care professional, they may think these changes are just a normal part of getting older.

But it’s crucial to take these symptoms seriously and to schedule regular medical appointments and have open discussions with your doctor, according to Dr. Jihad Mustapha, Associate Professor for Medicine at Michigan State University.

“If you have critical limb ischemia (the most severe form of PAD), your chance of dying is higher than colon, breast or prostate cancer,” he says. “Tell your doctor exactly what you’re feeling. With early detection of PAD, there are more treatment options available. Your physician may be able to recommend lifestyle changes or a minimally invasive procedure.”

Are you at risk for PAD?

  • Over 50 years old
  • A current or former smoker
  • Have diabetes
  • Struggle with high blood pressure or cholesterol
  • Suffer from kidney disease

Reduce the risk of amputation

There are ways to reduce the possibility of amputation in addition to making lifestyle changes.

  1. If you exhibit risk factors, talk to your doctor about PAD.
  2. After a PAD diagnosis, keep in-office or telehealth appointments to avoid more serious surgical interventions.
  3. If a doctor recommends amputation, you can ask for a second opinion. Use our Find a Doctor tool to locate a PAD specialist.