PERIPHERAL Artery Disease, or PAD, is a leading cause of amputations in the US. But the disease can be silent, so millions of Americans, especially in the black community, don’t know they have it.
Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen unit hopes to change that with its new “Save Legs. Change Lives. Spot Peripheral Artery Disease Now” initiative.
In April, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) unveiled the multiyear campaign at the American College of Cardiology conference in Washington, D.C. It is part of J&J’s broader US$100 million “Our Race to Health Equity” initiative, which is aimed at “eradicating racial and social injustice as a public health threat.”
The campaign notes that PAD disproportionately impacts black Americans, who are twice as likely as whites to have the disease and are up to four times more likely to lose a limb.
The chronic condition causes the blood vessels to narrow, reducing blood flow to the limbs, especially the legs. While 8.5 million people in the US have been diagnosed with PAD, as many as 20 million may have it, according to J&J.
“Tragically, PAD amputations are directly correlated to an increased risk of death,” said Richard Browne, M.D., Janssen’s Medical Director of Cardiovascular Strategy. He said an alarming 70 per cent of people who have leg amputations due to PAD die within three years.
The main symptom of the disease is leg pain when walking, but it’s asymptomatic in 40 per cent of patients. Left untreated, it can lead to heart attack, stroke or amputation.
However, a simple test known as the ABI, or Ankle Brachial Index, can catch the disease. The screening takes about 10 to 15 minutes and involves taking blood pressure readings in a person’s arm and leg and comparing them.
As part of the campaign, Janssen has rolled out its “empower PAD” mobile health unit to bring the test into local communities. Janssen is also collaborating with health organisations like the American Heart Association, which is working to reduce amputations by 20 per cent by 2030 and is developing a “Save Legs” campaign website where patients can find resources about disease.