Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is emerging as being particularly important in terms of cardiovascular risk but its importance as a clear marker for serious underlying vascular disease goes largely unrecognised, with PAD being the only cardiovascular disease not included in the Quality and Outcomes Framework. PAD is often detected late, because patients tend to think that pain in their legs is simply a part of ageing. In this article, we discuss how to recognise and treat people with, or at risk of, PAD using both pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions. We will also consider when referral to secondary care is appropriate.
Chronic leg ulcers are a major health problem in the UK, affecting many older people and costing the NHS up to £600 million per year. Chronic leg ulcers are generally managed in primary care: more than 80% of chronic leg ulcers are cared for in the community. Healing rates are currently low and recurrence rates are higher than 67%. However, appropriate use of available treatments can reduce recurrence rates to between 20% and 30%. In this article, we review the causes of venous ulceration, how to spot the problem early and how to optimise leg ulcer healing.
Foot complications are very common in patients with diabetes. At least one in six diabetics develop foot ulcers at some point in their lives. This article reviews why foot complications occur in diabetes, how you can detect foot problems early, and treatment and prevention strategies. The National Service Framework for Diabetes suggests that targeted foot care for people at high risk could save hundreds of amputations a year. By detecting complications earlier, we can make a real difference to patients’ lives, reducing morbidity, improving quality of life and even saving limbs.