EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND — More than 200 million people worldwide were living with peripheral artery disease (PAD) in 2010, a new review suggests[1]. More than two-thirds of these are living in low- and middle-income countries, including more than 55 million in Southeast Asia and 46 million in the western Pacific region.

According to Dr F Geral Fowkes (University of Edinburgh, Scotland) and colleagues, the most alarming finding from their study is the rate at which the prevalence of PAD is increasing. In the past 10 years, the number of people with PAD has risen by 23.5%. And strikingly, the rise in PAD has been twice as high in low-/middle-income countries (a 28.7% increase) as compared with the increase in high-income countries (13.1%).

"Little attention has been paid to this disease," Fowkes warned in a press statement accompanying the study, published online July 31, 2013 in the Lancet. This is despite the fact that PAD is the third leading cause of atherosclerotic cardiovascular morbidity, after coronary artery disease and stroke, the authors note.

Fowkes et al conducted a systematic literature review, looking at community-based studies since 1997. They used epidemiological modeling to define age-specific and sex-specific prevalence rates in high-income and low-/middle-income countries and calculated PAD prevalence using population numbers from 2000 and 2010.