Hospitalizations and costs associated with peripheral artery disease (PAD) increase substantially as the condition progresses, according to a study by University of Minnesota researchers.
PAD is a condition in which blood flow to leg arteries is obstructed as a result of the hardening and narrowing of artery walls. It also is associated with an elevated risk of heart attack and stroke.
The condition affects an estimated 8 million Americans—a number researchers expect will increase.
Alan T. Hirsch, M.D., a professor in both the Medical School and School of Public Health, helped to lead this international study on behalf of the Reduction of Atherothrombosis for Continued Health (ReACH) Registry, which supplied the data for the research.
About 23 percent of asymptomatic and 31 percent symptomatic PAD patients in the two-year study experienced at least one vascular-related hospitalization. Average cumulative two-year hospitalization costs per patient were $7,000 for patients with a history of leg pain; $7,445 for those without symptoms; $10,430 for those with lower limb amputation; and $11,693 for those with a history of revascularization procedures.
“These ongoing high costs mean that we can never be complacent in merely measuring the adverse outcomes associated with any particular disease,” says Hirsch. “We clearly have to be committed to devising new treatments where none exist and in assuring that current treatments are being used for both maximum clinical benefit and best cost-effectiveness.”