Kidney disease in women linked to higher risk of peripheral arterial disease, poor leg circulation

By: Dr. Victor Marchione | General Health | Thursday, March 17, 2016 - 12:00 PM

Kidney disease in womenKidney disease in women is linked to a higher risk of peripheral arterial disease and poor leg circulation. The new study looked at nearly 3,200 individuals with chronic kidney disease (CKD), and the researchers found that women under the age of 70 with kidney disease had a 53 percent greater risk of peripheral arterial disease (PAD), in comparison to men.

On the other hand, after the age of 70, the difference was no longer seen between the genders.

In explanation of the differences, the authors wrote, “Females are known to have smaller diameter vessels compared to men.” Smaller vessels means that smaller buildup is required to cause a blockage and so women with kidney disease must be monitored earlier on, compared to men.

Dr. Reese Wain, chief of vascular surgery at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, said, “Based on these results, it is imperative that we maintain a higher index of suspicion for diagnosing such vascular problems in women sooner.”

Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, who directs women’s heart health at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, added, “Women’s arteries are significantly affected by kidney disease, and this correlation emphasizes the critical importance of early screening and detection for those women at the greatest risk.”

PAD is a condition in which the arteries that carry blood to the legs and arms become narrow. Over time, if left untreated, it can lead to serious disability or even loss of a limb.

Previous research on PAD in women showed that women often experience greater disability and complications with PAD compared to men.

The researchers believe the new findings suggests that women beginning at the age of 50 should start being screened for PAD if they have smoked or have diabetes or the age of 65 if they have other risk factors of PAD.

Poor leg circulation treatment equally effective for women

A previous study found that treatment to improve leg circulation is equally effective in both men and women. The research looked at the benefits of artery-opening treatments like angioplasty and stent placement in patients with PAD. Senior author Dr. P. Michael Grossman said, “We found that women had excellent outcomes compared to men, even though they were older and had more severe disease.”

The researchers examined data of over 12,300 PAD patients who received artery-opening treatment. Success rates of the treatment were 79 percent for women and 81 percent for men.

Women generally have more severe complications of PAD compared to men and that could explain the slight difference in the treatment success rates. Grossman added, “The reasons for differences in symptoms are unclear, and deserve further study. It does indicate that we need to be vigilant in asking women about leg discomfort and screening women for PAD.”

“We need to work together to ensure all patients with PAD are prescribed these medications, particularly women,” added study author Dr. Elizabeth Jackson.

Medications and lifestyle habits can be effective measures for improving PAD, so speak to your doctor about what you can do to reduce your need for surgery and naturally improve PAD.

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