Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Peripheral vascular disease
Vascular protection in peripheral artery disease: systematic review and modelling study
  1. D G Hackam1,
  2. N M Sultan2,
  3. M H Criqui3
  1. 1
    Department of Medicine, Division of Clinical Pharmacology, and Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2
    Department of Medicine, London Health Sciences Centre, University Hospital, London, Ontario, Canada
  3. 3
    Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, School of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, California, USA
  1. Dr D G Hackam, Stroke Prevention and Atherosclerosis Research Centre, 1400 Western Road, London, Ontario, Canada N6G 2V2; dhackam{at}


Aims: To ascertain the effectiveness of medical therapy for reducing risk in peripheral artery disease (PAD) and to model the potential impact of combining multiple efficacious approaches.

Methods and results: 17 electronic databases, reference lists of primary studies, clinical practice guidelines, review articles, trial registries and conference proceedings from cardiology, vascular surgery and atherosclerosis meetings were screened. Eligible studies were randomized trials or meta-analyses of randomized trials of medical therapy for PAD which reported major cardiovascular events (myocardial infarction, stroke and cardiovascular death). Baseline event rates for modelling analyses were derived from published natural history cohorts. Overall, three strategies had persuasive evidence for reducing risk in PAD: antiplatelet agents (pooled RRR 26%, 95% CI 10 to 42), statins (pooled RRR 26%, 95% CI 18 to 33) and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (individual trial RRR 25%, 95% CI 8 to 39). The estimated cumulative relative risk reduction for all three strategies was 59% (CI 32 to 76). Given a 5-year major cardiovascular event rate of 25%, the corresponding absolute risk reduction and number needed to treat to prevent one event were 15% (CI 8 to 19) and 7 (CI 5 to 12), respectively. Population level analyses suggest that increased uptake of these modalities could prevent more than 200 000 events in patients with PAD each year.

Conclusion: The use of multiple efficacious strategies has the potential to substantially reduce the cardiovascular burden of PAD. However, these data should be regarded as hypothetical, since they are based on mathematical modelling rather than factorial randomized trials.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • ▸ An appendix and additional reference list are published online only at

  • Funding: This research was supported by an unrestricted grant from the University of Western Ontario.

  • Competing interests: MHC is a coinvestigator in an observational study supported by Sanofi-Aventis and Bristol-Myers Squibb; however, no interventions or therapies are involved.