Almost everyone has seen the ads for the new anticoagulants at this point. However, many Americans still remain in the dark regarding what atrial fibrillation (Afib) is and it’s potentially devastating consequences. Despite increasing efforts to improve the awareness for atrial fibrillation, many still do not know it’s signs and symptoms or that it is a progressive disease. Afib is the most common arrhythmia in the world affecting 3-6 million Americans with projections of up to 16 million by the year 2050.
Peripheral artery disease is a widespread and vastly underdiagnosed disease, affecting nearly 12 million Americans, mostly those over the age of 50, though the incidence increases with age. The most common symptom of peripheral arterial disease is claudication, which is pain, fatigue or aching in the legs when someone attempts to walk. This is due to the poor blood flow to the muscles in the legs. Beyond simply the discomfort in the legs, we know that having peripheral vascular disease makes one much more likely to have poor cardiovascular outcomes. Among patients with symptomatic peripheral arterial disease, more than 10% will have a stroke, heart attack, or die from a cardiovascular cause within two years. And when we look longer term, the statistics are even more sobering. For patients with symptomatic peripheral arterial disease, their mortality rate is 25% at 5 years and 50% at 10 years. When looking at patients with critical limb ischemia (those who have pain at rest or wounds on their feet), the numbers are even worse: they have a mortality rate of 50% at 5 years and 90% at 10 years.
Most people are aware that atherosclerosis can cause blockages in the coronary arteries, resulting in chest pain or heart attack, or in the carotid arteries, precipitating a stroke. But atherosclerosis can lead to another serious but often under-diagnosed condition: peripheral arterial disease (PAD). Defined as atherosclerotic obstruction of the arteries to the lower extremities, PAD causes leg pain and is associated with other cardiovascular disease. Although lower extremity PAD affects an estimated 12 to 20 million people in the United States, only four to five million of them are experiencing symptoms.
Bang, bang, bang! If you experience your heart banging against your chest or skipping beats you may be experiencing an arrhythmia. An arrhythmia is an irregular rate or rhythm of the heartbeat, where your heart can beat too fast or slow. Most commonly, this is caused by atrial fibrillation (AFib), when disorganized electrical signals cause the heart’s chambers not to beat in sync or fibrillate. Millions of Americans are affected by this disease and the number increases each year. AFib is the most common abnormal heart rhythm in America.
Social Security Disability under Title II of the Social Security Act*
Surveys have shown that most Americans know little about Social Security law and the vital benefits it provides. By far, the least understood Social Security benefit is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). This lack of knowledge has been measured through objective testing in various academic studies. Anecdotally, I know this to be true based on recurring questions and comments I have received from the public and clients alike over the last several decades of my work as a social security disability attorney.
Early detection of coronary artery disease is a signiﬁcant problem. One third of deaths after 35 are secondary to cardiovascular disease. One half of middle aged men and one third of middle aged women will develop coronary artery disease. Currently our ability to detect early disease is limited. By the time symptoms occur there is usually 70% obstruction of the coronary artery. Data from autopsies on Korean War casualties indicate initial signs of development of coronary plaque in the early 20’s of age. Theoretically it would seem appropriate to begin prevention therapy as soon as possible but who should get it? Obviously, the patients with known vascular disease and equivalents such as diabetes would need this therapy. Those without established disease need an estimate of their risk.
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