THURSDAY, Sept. 1, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- The annual Legs for Life program, a free national screening campaign for the early detection of peripheral arterial disease (PAD), got off to a running start Thursday.
According to its sponsors, the Society of Interventional Radiology, the program is aimed at helping people with PAD avoid amputation, heart attack and stroke.
PAD involves the hardening of the arteries in the legs, and occurs when plaque builds up inside arteries, causing them to clog and narrow. About 10 million Americans have PAD, with diabetics at highest risk. One in three diabetics over age 50 are affected.
"Screening is essential because one-third of diabetics have peripheral arterial disease, but most do not present classic symptoms -- and by the time they do notice they have a problem, they are often facing amputation, kidney damage, or stroke," Legs for Life chair Harvey Wiener, an interventional radiologist, said in a statement.
During a routine PAD screening, a quick, painless test is used to compare blood pressure in the legs to blood pressure in the arms, to determine how well the blood is flowing.
Nearly 322,000 people have been screened to date through the Legs For Life program, which has been held annually in September since 1998.
For more information on Legs for Life, head to the Society of Interventional Radiology.