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WomenHeart and P.A.D. Coalition Join Forces to Educate Women about Peripheral Arterial Disease

Leg Cramps Can be Red Flag for Heart Disease

WASHINGTON, Sept. 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As many as 4.5 million American women have a common and dangerous vascular disease that few have ever heard of -- peripheral arterial disease. September is Peripheral Arterial Disease (P.A.D.) Awareness Month, and the P.A.D. Coalition and WomenHeart: the National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease have launched a national effort to inform Americans about the impact of P.A.D. on women.

P.A.D. occurs when arteries in the legs become narrowed or clogged with fatty deposits, reducing blood flow to the legs. This can result in leg muscle pain when walking, disability, amputation, and poor quality of life. Blocked arteries found in people with P.A.D. can be a red flag that other arteries, including those in the heart and brain, may also be blocked -- increasing the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

A recent study conducted by the P.A.D. Coalition found that only 28 percent of American women are aware of P.A.D. and those that expressed familiarity with the disease actually knew very little about the diseases risk factors and potential consequences.

"Many women have leg muscle pain when walking and attribute it to just getting older," stated Marge Lovell, RN, Chair, P.A.D. Coalition and clinical trials nurse at the London Health Sciences and Centre in London, Ontario. "We want women to listen to their bodies and understand that this leg discomfort can be a sign of a serious, life-threatening disease."

Everyone over age 50 is at risk for P.A.D. Risk increases if a person:

  • Smokes, or used to smoke
  • Has diabetes
  • Has high blood pressure
  • Has abnormal blood cholesterol
  • Is African American
  • Has a personal history of coronary heart disease or stroke

In many, P.A.D. is a silent disease, causing no recognizable symptoms. People with P.A.D. may have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • "Claudication" -- fatigue, heaviness, tiredness or cramping in the leg muscles (calf, thigh or buttocks) that occurs during activity such as walking and goes away with rest.
  • Foot or toe pain at rest that often disturbs sleep
  • Skin wounds or ulcers on the feet or toes that are slow to heal (or that do not heal for 8 to 12 weeks).

"Women with or at risk for heart disease need to be aware of the symptoms and serious consequences of P.A.D. Through our efforts with the P.A.D. Coalition we aim to inform and empower women to be aware of P.A.D. and encourage them to share information about the disease with other women," said Lisa Tate, Chief Executive Officer, WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease.

To increase public awareness of P.A.D., the P.A.D. Coalition and WomenHeart are partnering to support the Stay in Circulation: Take Steps to Learn About P.A.D campaign, a nationwide effort developed in partnership with the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

A new patient brochure on women and P.A.D. is now available at and or by calling 1-866-PAD-INFO (1-866-723-4636). Take the P.A.D. Quiz at

P.A.D. Coalition

The Peripheral Arterial Disease (P.A.D.) Coalition is an alliance of more than 80 North American health organizations, professional societies, government agencies and corporations united to improve the health and care of patients with P.A.D. Established in 2004, the P.A.D. Coalition is a division of the Vascular Disease Foundation (, a national, not-for-profit section 501(c)(3) organization. The P.A.D. Coalition seeks to improve the prevention, early detection, treatment, and rehabilitation of people with, or at risk for, P.A.D.

WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease

WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease is the nation's only patient advocacy organization serving the 41 million American women living with or at risk for heart disease -- the leading cause of death for women. WomenHeart is solely devoted to advancing women's heart health through advocacy, community education, and the nation's only patient support network for women living with heart disease. WomenHeart is both a coalition and a community of thousands of members nationwide, including women heart patients and their families, healthcare professionals, and health advocates, all committed to helping women live longer, healthier lives. To join or donate, visit

SOURCE WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women With Heart Disease
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