Experts are warning that more than 60,000 people in the East Midlands could be living with a serious vascular condition that can lead to leg amputation or a fatal heart attack.
Ninety percent of those are smokers or ex-smokers prompting the British Heart Foundation to issue a timely appeal to give up the deadly habit ahead of next week’s No Smoking Day.
Stubbing out cigarettes will lower the risk of peripheral arterial disease (PAD) which is a silent and largely unknown killer in the UK.
There are 29,956 registered PAD patients in the East Midlands but a leading surgeon estimates that the real number could be twice as high.
Approximately half of all sufferers show no symptoms until they suffer a heart attack or stroke.
Dr Mark Knapton, the foundation’s association medical director, said: “Peripheral arterial disease can lead to horrific consequences and the silent nature of the condition means that opportunities to diagnose and treat it are often missed.
“We do know that stopping smoking is the single most effective way of reducing your risk of developing this potentially deadly disease and with No Smoking Day on March 9, now is a great time for smokers in the East Midlands to prepare to start their quitting journey.”
BHF-funded researchers at King’s College London/St Thomas’ Hospital are investigating a technique to accurately determine whether an affected limb can be saved through surgery. The new scanning technique will help show the effectiveness of treatment and immediately indicate whether further surgery is required, potentially minimising the number of people having to undergo life changing surgery or amputation. Currently the only way of determining the success of surgery is to wait for a period of days to see whether the leg improves.
Just under 10 million UK adults smoke cigarettes and there are 10,000 hospital admissions per week for diseases that are directly caused by smoking.