Arterial leg disease was diagnosed in 4.4 percent in African-American women, 3.1 percent of African-American men, 3.2 percent of white women and 2.3 percent of white men in the study in the latest issue of American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
The researchers, led by Zhi-Jie Zheng, M.D, also found that cigarette smoking was the single most important risk factor for arterial leg disease.
Advanced cases of arterial leg disease can lead to amputation of the foot or leg, according to Zheng, an epidemiologist at the Division of Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In the study, arterial leg disease was diagnosed by measuring resting blood pressure in the ankle and the arm, and determining the ratio between them, called the resting ankle-brachial index. The condition was diagnosed when the ratio was less than or equal to 0.9.
The condition was associated with hypertension, diabetes, and higher concentrations of total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL cholesterol and lower concentrations of HDL (good) cholesterol.
The higher rate of arterial leg disease in African-Americans may be due to the higher prevalence of diabetes and hypertension in this population, according to the researchers.
The same risk factors for other cardiovascular diseases -- such as smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol levels -- are associated with arterial leg disease regardless of age, gender or racial and ethnic background. The presence of arterial leg disease may predict other cardiovascular problems.
People with early arterial disease may not have any symptoms. But if not treated properly, arterial leg disease can lead to pain or cramping in the legs, especially during exercis
Contact: Zhi-Jie Zheng
Center for the Advancement of Health