To assess the age- and sex-specific prevalence of peripheral arterial disease (PAD) and intermittent claudication (IC) in an elderly population, we performed a population-based study in 7715 subjects (40% men, 60% women) aged 55 years and over. The presence of PAD and IC was determined by measuring the ankle-arm systolic blood pressure index (AAI) and by means of the World Health Organization/Rose questionnaire, respectively. PAD was considered present when the AAI was <0.90 in either leg. The prevalence of PAD was 19.1% (95% confidence interval, 18.1% to 20.0%): 16.9% in men and 20.5% in women. Symptoms of IC were reported by 1.6% (95% confidence interval, 1.3% to 1.9%) of the study population (2.2% in men, 1.2% in women). Of those with PAD, 6.3% reported symptoms of IC (8.7% in men, 4.9% in women), whereas in 68.9% of those with IC an AAI below 0.90 was found. Subjects with an AAI <0.90 were more likely to be smokers, to have hypertension, and to have symptomatic or asymptomatic cardiovascular disease compared with subjects with an AAI of 0.90 or higher. The authors conclude that the prevalence of PAD in the elderly is high whereas the prevalence of IC is rather low, although both prevalences clearly increase with advancing age. The vast majority of PAD patients reports no symptoms of IC.

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Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Meijer, W., Hoes, A., Rutgers, D., Bots, M., Grobbee, D., & Hofman, A. (1998). Peripheral arterial disease in the elderly: The Rotterdam Study. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology. Retrieved from