This lack of preventive care in such patients, who are at high risk for a heart attack or stroke, means that more effort is needed to improve the way doctors and patients deal with an often body-wide problem of clogged blood vessels, the researchers say.
In a presentation at the American Heart Association's annual Scientific Sessions, U-M Cardiovascular Center researchers will show data on 553 patients who came to five Michigan hospitals for procedures to re-open clogged blood vessels in their legs and abdomens. Such blockages are called peripheral artery disease or PAD.
The study shows that among such patients, those who also had a history of heart problems were more likely to receive drugs to lower their cholesterol and blood pressure, compared with those who hadn't had heart problems.
"Patients who have severe PAD but haven't experienced heart-related problems are under-treated when it comes to medical therapy, especially statin drugs to lower cholesterol," says senior author P. Michael Grossman, M.D., an assistant professor of cardiovascular medicine who leads the project that produced the new data. "This is despite the fact that national guidelines recommend physicians treat PAD with the same aggressive medical treatment as they treat coronary artery disease."
The patients in the study were all having procedures called peripheral vascular interventions or PVIs, which are nearly identical to angioplasty and stenting procedures performed in blocked or narrowed heart arteries. PVIs are performed on hundreds of thousands of Americans each year, to open blocked arteries in the legs and abdomen that cause disabling leg pain or kidney problems.