The risks associated with periphery artery disease (PAD) has prompted a group of researchers to recommend screening for people aged over 40 years old.
PAD contributes to thousands of deaths every year, with associated conditions including heart disease, strokes and even lower-limb amputation.
The index of suspicion for older patients should be high among family doctors, the University of Alberta researchers indicated, although often this is not the case.
Speaking to the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress 2009, Heart and Stroke Foundation researcher Dr Ross Tsuyuki said: "PAD is caused by a narrowing of the arteries that supply blood to the legs.
"The pain some PAD patients experience is the lower limb equivalent of the chest pain from the heart."
The researchers found that 80 per cent of those diagnosed with PAD were unaware they had the condition, which emphasises the importance of better detection and guide treatment.
A recent study by scientists at the University of Adelaide found that nearly one-in-three of those with angina experience frequent chest pain, affecting their daily lives.
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