Study: Black men have 30 percent higher risk for peripheral artery disease

By Tauren Dyson

Sept. 10 (UPI) -- The risk of developing peripheral artery disease, a condition that narrows the leg arteries, is drastically higher for non-white people, a new study shows.

Black men have a lifetime PAD risk of 30 percent and black women have a risk of 28 percent, according to new research published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Heart Association. That's compared to an overall risk of 22 percent for Hispanics.


PAD is the chronic reduction of blood flow through the leg arteries. It's normally brought on by fat buildup along the arterial walls called atherosclerosis. People who smoke cigarettes, have diabetes or a history of coronary heart disease or stroke have five times the risk of developing PAD in their lifetime.

"A key finding in our study is that blacks have a significantly higher PAD risk than whites and Hispanics, even though current clinical guidelines don't list race as a contributing factor," Kunihiro Matsushita, a researcher at Johns Hopkins University and study author, said in a news release. "PAD clinical guidelines recommend considering the assessment of PAD among high-risk individuals, but our study highlights the importance of taking into account race in this context."


The study included more than 38,000 people from six community-based cohorts throughout the United States, which included the Framingham Heart Study and Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study. The researchers used race, age, sex, and health-related risk information to develop a risk calculator to identify patients at a high-risk for PAD.

The data also included a measurement of the systolic blood pressure at the ankle divided by its measurement at the arm. This is called the ankle-brachial index, which is considered diagnostic for PAD at .09.

In all, they found 9 percent of black people will develop PAD by age 60 versus white and Hispanic people who develop the condition 10 years later, on average.

The researchers say a 45-year-old non-smoking black man without a history of cardiovascular disease or stroke or diabetes would have only a 1.2 percent likelihood of developing PAD. On the other hand, the risk of PAD shoots up to 10.5 percent for a 45-year-old black man who smokes and has those other risk factors.

The researchers hope this analysis can better assess the chances of high-risk patients developing PAD.

"Our PAD risk calculator algorithm can be used to select patients for screening with ABI tests and to guide the selection of treatments based on risk," Matsushita said.


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