The lives of people with a common and serious form of cardiovascular disease – peripheral arterial disease (PAD) – may be at risk due to undertreatment of this poorly recognised condition.
A new report, which has been sent to MPs, highlights for the first time the healthcare, political, social and economic costs of failing to provide appropriate treatment to those diagnosed with PAD.
Target PAD, the group of leading experts behind the report titled "Dragging Their Feet", is calling for the government to urgently address this. Target PAD wants to see the ankle brachial index, a simple test to diagnose PAD risk, alongside current cardiovascular indicators proposed for inclusion within the cardiovascular screening remit.
The report claims that if PAD continues to be neglected, unnecessary costs to the NHS will continue. Based only on tariff payments for a small cohort of PAD patients, the NHS currently endures unnecessary costs of at least £47m per year, with the cost to the UK economy as a whole standing between £100m to £600m per year.
Target PAD believes the inclusion of PAD within the cardiovascular screening programme would be an investment that will not only save many lives, but also save the NHS many millions of pounds in the future.
Dr Sarah Jarvis, London GP and Target PAD board member, comments: "There is a huge and convincing evidence base for the high risk of cardiovascular disease associated with PAD. People with PAD are three to four times more likely to die from a stroke or heart attack than people of the same age who do not have PAD. Despite this, they are currently not targeted for high-quality preventive care in the same way as patients with coronary heart disease, stroke or hypertension. If doctors are to meet government targets by reducing deaths from cardiovascular disease by at least two fifths in people under 75 by 2010, PAD must be recognised as a significant health burden and its exclusion would be completely illogical."
Along with heart disease and stroke, PAD is the third form of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is the main underlying cause of cardiovascular disease, the UK's number one killer. Unlike heart attacks or stroke, PAD remains relatively unrecognised and as a result, is inadequately diagnosed and treated by comparison.