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As Mississippi Leads Nation in Amputations, Doctors Fight Peripheral Artery Disease

With Mississippi leading the nation in amputations, some doctors and health officials are working to reduce the number of amputations caused by peripheral artery disease.

Mississippi’s rate of 129.7 amputations per 100,000 residents is more than double the national average of 45.5 per 100,000 people, American Heart Association data shows.

Peripheral artery disease is when a blood vessel outside of the heart narrows and causes poor circulation. PAD can occur in the arms and legs, but Cardiovascular Solutions of Central Mississippi Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Foluso Fakorede said the disease more commonly affects patients’ legs and feet.

“It affects close to 21 million people, and primarily those who have diabetes or a history of nicotine use or people who have history of high blood pressure and anyone who’s had plaque build-up or blockages in their heart or brain. So (with) heart disease or stroke, there’s a high prevalence of peripheral artery disease. But it’s the least aware of all cardiovascular diseases,” he told the Mississippi Free Press on April 9.

Symptoms of Peripheral Artery Disease

Dr. Foluso Fakorede said one of the reasons why many people are unaware of peripheral artery disease is because it is a “silent epidemic,” meaning patients may not have serious side effects from the disease, or if they do, they do not know it is a symptom of PAD.

About 15% of PAD patients experience some symptoms, like feeling pain or numbness in one’s legs or feet while walking, he said. But 50% of PAD patients have no symptoms at all, he added, and 33% have “atypical symptoms,” like restless leg syndrome.

“If left silent and something’s building up in your artery, it’s going to narrow that vessel. And if it’s not screened and treated on time with medicines or with exercise, it leads to a non-healing wound or an ulcer,” Fakorede said. “… We call that the extreme stage of peripheral artery disease.”

The extreme stage, or acute limb ischemia, causes serious pain and limb damage that could paralyze patients or cause them to feel pain, tingling sensations, loss of pulse or coldness in their

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