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Rosales: It's time to raise awareness of peripheral arterial disease

HOUSTON, TX (March24, 2014)

It's a silent and potentially fatal disease disguised as arthritis or old age. It flies under the scrutiny radar of many, including its victims and healthcare practitioners. No more. It's time for the medical community and public health officials to shine a bright light on peripheral arterial disease.

If the name doesn't ring a bell, you're not alone. Peripheral arterial disease is a lower-limb condition that affects more than 200 million people globally - a number six times greater than the worldwide population living with HIV. More than 10 million Americans live with peripheral arterial disease - many unknowingly. Left undiagnosed or untreated, the condition can cause serious complications such as gangrene, loss of limb and even death. As a practicing Houston cardiologist with a keen interest in vascular diseases, I have witnessed over the last two decades an explosion of very advanced, undiagnosed cases of peripheral arterial disease. In its most advanced stage, the condition manifests as critical limb ischemia, or severe artery blockages. This, unfortunately, can lead to amputation, and devastating psychosocial and financial consequences for patients and their families.