ProPublica reporters are looking into the booming business around peripheral artery disease, a condition that afflicts 6.5 million Americans over age 40. It’s caused when fatty plaque builds up in a person’s arteries, blocking blood flow to their legs. This leads to leg pain and numbness, especially when walking. The disease is fairly common, but patients may not even know they have it.
Experts say most treatments are perfectly safe. But there has been growing concern about one type of procedure — atherectomies — after researchers and doctors uncovered patterns of excessive and inappropriate use.
We have learned that some doctors may be taking advantage of high reimbursement rates and prescribing aggressive treatments even when they aren’t necessary. This could lead to a higher risk of complications, including limb amputation. (See our story on this here.)
We think this is an extremely important investigation. But to make progress in our reporting, we need to connect with patients. That’s challenging because many people may not even know they have had an atherectomy. Please help us by filling out our form if:
- You think that you, or someone you know, has peripheral artery disease and may have had a leg procedure like an atherectomy, stent or angioplasty/balloon. (If you are unsure if you have had any of these procedures, we still want to hear from you.)
- You are a health care worker and have a tip to share.
- You are a medical device representative and have a tip to share.
- You are a regulator overseeing these systems.