New awareness campaign aims to close the care gap, reduce limb amputations for Canadian peripheral arterial disease (PAD) patients

TORONTO, Oct. 31, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - The Canadian Association of Wound Care (CAWC) today launched Just Leg Pain? Think Again, a new education program to raise awareness of peripheral arterial disease (PAD), a vascular disease that affects as many as 800,000 Canadians and can lead to limb amputation.

"Currently we see a gap in PAD care between Canadian health practitioners and their European counterparts and this campaign aims to help close that gap," said Dr. Greg Archibald, President of the CAWC and Professor and Head, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University in Halifax. "To that end, the CAWC is bringing together regional and national organizations with a stake in addressing this significant health issue and launching the campaign at its 20th annual conference."

PAD is a term used to classify all non-coronary arterial diseases. It is a buildup of plaque in the walls of arteries, which reduces or blocks the flow of blood to limbs, and is most commonly seen in the legs.

"Risk for PAD increases in persons over the age of 70 or in persons over the age of 50 who have other cardiovascular risk factors, including high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, or are a current or former smoker," said Dr. Keith Harding, Dean of Clinical Innovation; Head of Wound Healing Research Unit (WHRU), at Cardiff University, School of Medicine in Wales, who spoke about PAD today at the annual CAWC conference in Toronto. "Notably, people with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have PAD."

There are several symptoms that persons with type 2 diabetes or advanced vascular disease may experience that could signal PAD. These symptoms can include:

Cramps in the leg muscles (buttocks, thigh or calf) that occurs during activities such as walking or climbing stairs
Pain in the legs and/or feet that disturbs sleep
Sores or Wounds on toes, feet or legs that heal slowly, poorly or not at all
Colour Changes in the skin of the feet, including paleness or blueness
Lower Temperature in one leg compared with the other leg
Poor Nail Growth and decreased hair growth on toes and legs

"Patients with chronic diabetes or advanced vascular disease can develop painful leg ulcers as a result of a narrowing of the arteries," said Dr. Andrew Dueck, Head, Division of Vascular Surgery at the Schulich Heart Centre at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto. "A combination of treatments is needed to prevent major amputations and, because these treatments are traditionally delivered by a variety of specialists in different physical locations at different times, coordinating treatment and getting the timing right is difficult."

Even with treatment, 40 per cent of these of these patients will need major amputation.

Diagnosing PAD can be done by a health care provider through a physical examination and vascular tests.

"Once diagnosed, there are three main approaches to treating PAD: making lifestyle changes, taking medication, and, in some cases, having an endovascular procedure or surgery, said Dr. Doris Grinspun, Chief Executive Officer, Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario. "A health care provider will determine the best treatment option in partnership with the patient based on his or her symptoms, life circumstances and medical history."

The Just Leg Pain? Think Again PAD awareness educational materials include:

  • Information geared to clinicians to help them work with patients and use the materials effectively
  • An awareness-building program to ensure Canadians with diabetes and the professional health care community know about PAD

The Just Leg Pain? Think Again PAD campaign and materials were developed by the CAWC with the support of a number of national and regional partners including:

  • Canadian Physical Therapy Wound Care collaborative
  • Canadian Podiatric Medical Association
  • Covidien plc
  • Diabetic Foot Canada
  • The Canadian Association for Enterostomal Therapy
  • Ontario Podiatric Medical Association
  • Registered Nurses' of Ontario Association
  • Regroupement Québécois en Soins de Plaies

"The Canadian Diabetes Association supports the launch of the Canadian Association of Wound Care's educational tools to raise awareness of PAD," said Carolyn Gall Casey, Director, Education at the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA). "It's especially important that people with diabetes get screened for PAD and work collaboratively with their care team to reduce the risk of PAD and its consequences."

The Canadian Association of Wound Care (CAWC) is a non-profit organization of healthcare professionals, researchers, corporate supporters, patients and caregivers dedicated to the advancement of wound care in Canada since 1995.

The CAWC Action 2014: Skin Health For Canada Conference is being held October 30 to November 2 at the Westin Harbour Castle, in Toronto.  It brings together a broad cross-section of more than 600 health care stakeholders dedicated to improving wound prevention and treatment in health care delivery, including physicians, nurses, allied health care professionals, administrators, researchers, patients, caregivers, government officials, and industry representatives.

Image with caption: "Canadian Association of Wound Care (CNW Group/Canadian Association of Wound Care)". Image available at:

SOURCE: Canadian Association of Wound Care

For further information: Deborah Rowe, 647-669-4984,

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