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Arterial Disease in Legs More Common Among Blacks

Smoking the single most important risk factor

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Blacks appear to be more likely than whites to develop lower extremity arterial disease (LEAD), according to a study in the December issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Zhi-Jie Zheng, M.D., Ph.D., of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues surveyed 15,173 U.S. adults for LEAD by measuring the resting ankle-brachial index (ABI), or the ratio of ankle systolic blood pressure to brachial systolic blood pressure.

The researchers found that 3.1% of black men had an ABI less than or equal to 0.9, compared with 4.4% of black women, 2.3% of white men and 3.2% of white women. After adjusting for age, LDL cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes, smoking was the single most important risk factor for LEAD. Hypertension and diabetes were associated with a higher risk of LEAD after adjusting for age, the team found.

"In conclusion, this community-based epidemiologic study of a middle-aged population suggests that the prevalence of LEAD is higher in African Americans than in whites, and demonstrates that elevated levels of traditional cardiovascular risk factors are associated with higher prevalence of LEAD across groups defined by African American or white race/ethnicity and gender," Zheng and colleagues write.

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