Research performed by the American College of Cardiology shows that cardiovascular diseases like heart disease, stroke and peripheral artery disease cause one-third of deaths around the world.
The study reviewed the deaths of every country around the globe over the past 25 years.
The countries with the highest rates of cardiovascular deaths were in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East, Southern Africa and South America. Although the United States, Canada, Japan and Western Europe experienced lower rates of cardiovascular death over the last 25 years, these decreasing rates have begun to slow down and plateau, according to the ACC.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 610,000 Americans die from heart disease and 145,000 individuals die from stroke each year. Thousands more are left debilitated from a heart attack or stroke.
Dangers of Peripheral Artery Disease
Peripheral artery disease, or PAD, is a dangerous cardiovascular condition that affects over 20 million Americans and, according to the ACC study, is one of the biggest contributors to heart disease and stroke worldwide. Peripheral artery disease causes narrowing of the arteries, usually in the lower extremities. This narrowing is caused by atherosclerosis, or buildup of cholesterol and calcium in the arteries.
Patients with PAD experience numbness or tingling of the lower extremities and cramping when standing after sitting or lying down for long periods. Other symptoms of PAD include wounds or skin ulcers that take a long time to heal or do not heal at all, loss of hair on the legs or affected extremities, and shiny skin.
For many people, PAD is a silent killer. Some PAD patients do not have symptoms and only learn of their condition when they face a major or fatal health crisis, like a stroke or heart attack.
PAD reduces circulation, and when circulation is reduced, critical blood and oxygen cannot reach tissues that need those nutrients for survival. As a result, tissues begin to atrophy and die off. Some patients even face foot and leg amputation because of their condition.
PAD also leaves patients at risk for stroke or heart attack because blood clots cannot travel through narrowed arteries. When this happens, blood flow is completely interrupted and causes a heart attack or stroke.
Early Intervention Critical to Patient Survival
Patients in countries with high fatality rates from cardiovascular diseases like peripheral artery disease also face additional risk because of limited access to quality medical care.
"In most cases, cardiovascular diseases like PAD can be successfully treated with medical interventions, like angioplasty," said Dr. Michael Budler, M.D.
The longer a patient goes without treatment for their PAD, the greater their risk of suffering a severe medical incident. Other interventions for PAD include cholesterol-lowering medications, a low-fat diet and increasing physical activity.
Budler is an interventional radiologist in Grand Island, Nebraska. He performs the angioplasty and vascular stenting procedures for patients with PAD.
The angioplasty procedure uses a balloon inserted into affected arteries to push back hardened calcium and cholesterol against the arterial wall. Vascular stenting works similarly, but also uses a fine-mesh tubing to hold the cholesterol back against the wall of the artery. Both procedures are designed to increase blood and oxygen flow.
The ACC study found that many countries with high numbers of fatalities from cardiovascular disease also had other factors contributing to negative cardiovascular health, like poor diets, tobacco use, excess alcohol consumption and obesity.
U.S. News and World Report. Heart Disease the No. 1 Killer Worldwide. U.S. News and World Report. 17 May 2017.