Atherosclerosis is a form of arterial disease that manifests in the coronary circulation as coronary artery disease (CAD), in the carotid arteries as cerebrovascular disease, and in the aorta and lower extremity arteries as peripheral arterial disease (PAD). The systemic nature of the disease is reflected in the fact that individuals with PAD or carotid artery disease are more likely to have CAD than those without. Since individuals with PAD are at markedly increased risk of cardiovascular ischemic events, early identification of this population and more aggressive medical interventions could substantially improve both morbidity and survival. The incidence of PAD in the general population is high, and currently affects 8-10 million Americans. The risk of developing PAD is predicted by both age and common atherosclerosis risk factors (e.g., smoking and diabetes). Efficient office-based PAD detection depends on the application of objective techniques to establish this diagnosis. Objective noninvasive tests, such as measurement of the ankle-brachial index (ABI), are known to be more sensitive than traditional clinical assessments. Since the major threat to patients with PAD is from secondary cardiovascular ischemic events, a primary therapeutic goal is to modify atherosclerotic risk factors. While national recommendations mandate aggressive lowering of serum low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels as a primary treatment goal in all patients with overt atherosclerosis, as 'coronary heart disease risk equivalent' syndromes, individuals with PAD are less intensively treated than those with CAD. Statins are the most effective of current treatments in lowering LDL-C, and have proven efficacy in secondary prevention among patients with established CAD. The use of statin medications in high-risk groups such as PAD patients could prove particularly beneficial in reducing cardiovascular morbidity and mortality and therefore merits prospective clinical investigation.
- Cardiovascular disease
- Peripheral arterial disease
- Secondary prevention
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine