Epidemiology of lower extremity peripheral artery disease in veterans

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Abstract

Objective:

The objective of this study was to describe the epidemiology, clinical features, outcomes, and predictors of mortality in veterans with peripheral artery disease (PAD).

Methods:

We used national data from the Veterans Health Administration from fiscal years 2009 to 2011 to identify patients with a new diagnosis of PAD. Within this cohort, we describe characteristics of the patients, use of recommended medications, and clinical outcomes during a 3-year follow-up (fiscal year 2014). We used Cox proportional hazards regression to examine predictors of mortality and adverse limb outcomes (amputation and hospitalization for critical limb ischemia [CLI]) during follow-up.

Results:

A total of 175,865 patients with a new diagnosis of PAD were included. The mean age was 69.9 years; 97.8% were male, and 67.7% were white. Nearly 77% of patients had hypertension, 46.5% had diabetes, 23% had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and 12.9% had renal failure. A prescription for statins was filled by 60.8%, and 34.9% received high-intensity statins within 90 days of PAD diagnosis. At 1 year, 2.6% underwent revascularization, 1.3% developed CLI, and 1.1% underwent amputation. During a median follow-up of 3.8 years, a total of 28.6% patients died (6.7% at 1 year), and 3.7% developed a limb outcome (2.0% at 1 year). Predictors of mortality included advanced age, comorbidities, and CLI or amputation at presentation. In contrast, prescription with statins was associated with lower mortality. Similar findings were present with regard to predictors of adverse limb outcomes, except that older age was associated with a lower risk of amputation or CLI.

Conclusions:

We found that veterans with PAD have a high prevalence of comorbid conditions and have a significant risk of mortality and limb loss. A substantial proportion of veterans with PAD are not prescribed recommended medications, especially statin therapy. Our data highlight important opportunities for improving care of veterans with PAD.

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