PAD | Often misdiagnosed, this illness can be mild or deadly

Tell the doctor about your symptoms; it could save your leg


Old woman with a dog in autumn park

CHICAGO, Illinois, September, 2017 – As we age, it is common to be concerned about heart disease or high blood pressure. But many people don’t know that those conditions are also related to another common health issue, peripheral artery disease (PAD). Unfortunately, many patients are not diagnosed until it has progressed.

PAD is caused when hardening of the arteries deprives the legs and feet of oxygen-rich blood. This occurs because the arteries become clogged, much like water pipes in an old house that build up with lime. In the body, clogged arteries don’t bring enough oxygen to the toes, feet and legs. (Less commonly, the same thing can happen to arms and hands.)

Older people are more likely to have some level of PAD. Those over 60 have a 5 percent chance; those over 70, 15 percent; and those over 80, 20 percent. Smokers and diabetics are far more likely to have PAD.

If the disease stays mild, it can cause no symptoms at all, or just a little pain in the legs while walking. But if it progresses, it can lead to gangrene, amputation and sometimes even death.

“A lot of time when patients complain of leg pain, it is misdiagnosed as something else, such as back pain,” said vascular surgeon and researcher Dr. Katherine Gallagher of the University of Michigan. “Then they may be referred to other doctors and occasionally have procedures like back surgery that fails to relieve the pain. Only then they are diagnosed with PAD.”

Patients need to know that even if they have PAD, it can be managed conservatively with medications most of the time, she added. “Surgery or endovascular therapy should be reserved for patients who have lifestyle-limiting pain when walking, rest pain and ulcers that don’t heal.”

When someone is diagnosed with or suspected of having PAD, they are typically referred to a vascular surgeon or vascular specialist. Vascular surgeons will often prescribe medications and lifestyle changes for PAD patients. If this fails or if the cases and symptoms are severe, surgery or a minimally invasive procedure may be necessary.

If the patient follows doctor’s orders, he has a 75 percent change that his PAD will not get worse. Exercise, such as walking on a treadmill, has been found to be an effective way to reduce pain, and in fact, supervised exercise has just officially been approved for Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement.

PAD patients may do better with supervised exercise therapy because left on their own, many don’t follow through with consistent exercise, researchers have found.

Patients frequently want to take a pill to make the disease go away, noted vascular surgeon and researcher Dr. Misty Humphries of the University of California Davis Medical Center.

“They become passive observers of their health,” she said. “While medications are essential, medication alone will never be the answer. Patients need to realize that they can change their lives and be in the driver’s seat of their own health care.”

That means you must:

  • Tell your primary care doctor if you have fatigue or cramping in the calf, thigh, hip or buttock when walking or at rest.
  • Tell the doctor if your feet feel numb.
  • Bring notes to your doctor visit to remind yourself of questions to ask.
  • Don’t assume the pain is unimportant.

If you don’t tell the doctor, what could happen?

At the least, the pain will continue. Eventually your feet could get sores that don’t heal, or heal very slowly. If the disease progresses, your feet and legs will get so little oxygen that you could develop a severe and painful form of PAD called chronic limb ischemia, which often leads to amputations.

For some patients, open foot sores are painful, but in others, disease has caused their feet to go numb and they may not know they have sores, Dr. Gallagher said.

What can you do to avoid the severe later stages of PAD?

  • Don’t smoke; if you do smoke, quit. Nicotine inflames the blood vessels and increases the likelihood of PAD. Ask your doctor to help you find assistance with smoking cessation.
  • See your primary care doctor regularly. Checkups are designed to catch things like PAD.
  • If you are having pain in your legs, feet or toes, or have sores on your feet that won’t heal, be sure to mention that in your doctor visit.
  • Be sure to follow doctor’s advice and take prescribed blood pressure and cholesterol medications as directed.
  • Keep walking. Walking 30 minutes a day, three to five times a week can keep PAD at bay. If your legs hurt just a little, keep walking; if the pain is bad, stop for a few minutes till it goes away, then start walking again. Pushing through mild and moderate pain will increase the distance you can walk without pain over time.
  • If that’s hard to manage, ask if supervised exercise therapy is covered for you.

    Learn more about PAD.


The Society for Vascular Surgery® (SVS) is a 5,800-plus member, not-for-profit professional medical society, composed primarily of specialty-trained vascular surgeons, which seeks to advance excellence and innovation in vascular health through education, advocacy, research and public awareness.

UK Health Improvement App Attracts Investment from Fortune 500 company

Reinsurance Group of America (RGA) banks on health benefits of UK app by taking stake in Quealth (PRNewsFoto/Quealth)
Reinsurance Group of America (RGA) banks on health benefits of UK app by taking stake in Quealth (PRNewsFoto/Quealth)

RGA is one of the world's largest life and health reinsurers, with approximately $3.1 trillion of life reinsurance in force and assets of $53.9 billion. RGA has taken a minority stake in roadtohealth, with an initial investment of over $4m and further investments dependent on performance and other criteria.

Quealth is distributed free via Apple's App Store, Google Play, the Samsung Galaxy App Store and Lenovo's newly released App Explorer. The latest version of the app adds an interactive digital health coach to the core health risk assessment modules.

Clinically validated by a team of leading academics, including Professor Stephen Weng at the University of Nottingham, Quealth helps health-conscious people assess how at risk they are from one or more of the five major non-communicable – and largely preventable – diseases in the developed world: diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, dementia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Proprietary algorithms at the heart of the app – all with AUC (a globally recognised measure of how accurately they predict clinical outcomes) values of between 0.77 and 0.80 – calculate an individual's risk of developing these diseases. They are based on answers given to a series of questions covering family medical history, biometrics and lifestyle. Depending on an individual's 'Quealth Score' – a number between 1 and 100 – the app then provides evidence-based content and coaching drawn from the latest behavioural change science to drive sustainable lifestyle improvements.

Future releases will incorporate live biometric and activity data from hundreds of different mobile apps and wearable devices.

Alistair Wickens, CEO of roadtohealth, said: "RGA is an ideal investor in and partner for roadtohealth. They share the same deep understanding of health risk scoring systems and are conscious of how fast the world is changing when it comes to individuals needing to understand their health risks and wanting the tools to improve them. This first stage investment enables us to work with academic bodies around the world to incorporate regional factors as well as to accelerate our distribution discussions with electronics manufacturers, health and charitable bodies and the medical, health and life insurance markets."

Quealth is a proven differentiator in the digital health arena in that it does more than just measure an individual's current state of health – it allows people to understand what their risks may be in a number of critical areas and then helps and guides them to make a difference. Dr. Philip Smalley, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of RGA International Corporation, a subsidiary of RGA, said: "Quealth has the credentials to make its scoring system and the inputs used to generate it relevant to our insurance business."

Quealth has been developed on the back of roadtohealth's 14 years experience of providing risk assessment technology for health information, pharmacies and insurance companies from around the world. With an advisory board of renowned experts, the company has refined the app under clinical scrutiny so that its simple-to-understand and easy-to-complete question and answer sets provide as accurate an overall health risk assessment profile as possible without medical involvement.

Quealth is the most accurate health & lifestyle app available. It quantifies your health, coaches you to make improvements and rewards your successes. Quealth combines the latest behavioural change science with the global reach of technology to encourage you to make lifestyle changes and live a longer, healthier life. Based on the award-winning and highly validated Quealth™ Score – a universally recognised and trusted predictor of health risk – Quealth focusses on the prevention of five leading non-communicable diseases: diabetes, six forms of cancer, cardiovascular disease, dementia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Quealth is owned by the roadtohealth group, an internationally-recognised health risk assessment and lifestyle management company. Formed in 2002, roadtohealth has successfully developed an international footprint by partnering with global brands including Aviva,, Samsung and HSBC.

All products or brand names mentioned are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders.

© Copyright 2016 roadtohealth group.

About RGA: Reinsurance Group of America, Incorporated is one of the largest global life and health reinsurance companies in the world. The company provides clients with individual life reinsurance, individual living benefits reinsurance, group reinsurance, health reinsurance, financial solutions, facultative underwriting and product development. RGA and its subsidiaries serve clients from operations in Australia, Barbados, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States. Worldwide, RGA has approximately $3.1 trillion of life reinsurance in force and assets of $53.9 billion.

The 8th Annual Toronto Huntington Heroes Run for Huntington Disease 

(KITCHENER, ON) June 15, 2016 – Join the Toronto Chapter of the Huntington Society of Canada to the 8th Annual Toronto Run for Huntington Disease in support of those impacted by Huntington disease in the Toronto area. New this year is the Huntington Heroes theme, participants are invited to dress up in costume as their favorite heroes. All proceeds will go directly to the Huntington Society of Canada to support families in Canada impacted by Huntington disease (HD) and Juvenile Huntington disease (JHD).

What?                   Toronto Huntington Heroes Run for Huntington disease                

When?                 Sunday, June 26, 2016

Where?                                Wilket Creek Park, Toronto, Ontario

Why?                    In support of the individuals and families impacted by Huntington disease

Details:                 Join the Toronto Chapter of the Huntington Society of Canada and the Running Room at Wilket Creek Park for a 10K run, a 5K run, or a 5K hike on June 26, 2016.  Registration is at 8:00AM.  Welcome at 9:30AM, run and hikers begin at 10:00AM. After the races, be sure to stay and enjoy food, beverages, and awards. Please visit for more information.

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Huntington disease (HD) is a debilitating brain disorder that is fatal and incurable. About one in every 7,000 Canadians has HD and approximately one in every 5,500 is at-risk of developing the disease. Many more are touched by HD whether as a caregiver, a family member, or a friend. Huntington disease is often described as having the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and ALS – simultaneously. As the disease progresses, a person with Huntington’s become less able to manage movements, recall events, make decisions and control emotions. The disease leads to incapacitation and, eventually, death.

The Huntington Society of Canada (HSC) is a respected leader in the worldwide effort to find a meaningful treatment for Huntington disease. HSC is the only Canadian health charity dedicated to providing help and hope for families dealing with Huntington disease across Canada.