(HealthDay News) – The American Heart Association (AHA) has updated their guidelines for the management of peripheral artery disease (PAD), specifically in women; the updated guidelines were published online Feb. 15 in Circulation.

Alan T. Hirsch, MD, and colleagues from the AHA, summarize the evidence describing the epidemiological burden of PAD in women and suggest updates to the guidelines for the management of patients with PAD. In addition, they present recommendations for improving estimates of PAD incidence and prevalence, diagnosis, treatment, and education about PAD, specifically in women.

The authors report that, although the gender- and age-specific prevalence of PAD has not been clearly defined, the total population burden of PAD appears to be higher in women than men; and most women with PAD do not have classic symptoms of intermittent claudication. Therefore, health care professionals should use the current vascular review of symptoms, physical examinations, and diagnostic testing to ensure that PAD is diagnosed promptly. Awareness of PAD is low, but women may be slightly more aware of the disease and its risks than men. Reduction or elimination of this knowledge gap would provide an opportunity to improve the health of women. Clinicians and women’s cardiovascular health programs should include PAD-specific messages that are targeted to women. Campaigns, similar to the successful “Go Red for Women” campaign for awareness of coronary artery disease, should be applied to PAD.

“Collation of accurate PAD-specific health information for women is likely to improve their own health and that of society at large,” the authors write.

Several of the authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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