Dr. Craig Walker & CIS Impact PAD Epidemic Worldwide

Walker Hosts International Peripheral Event in New Orleans

HOUMA – A condition known as peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is widespread in America and throughout the world.  The leading cause of amputations, PAD serves as a marker of a dramatically increased risk of premature death and disability—even when symptoms are not present.    

One in 20 Americans over the age of 50 have PAD, with recent estimates of more than 20 million Americans being affected.  Though it is a common and treatable disease, it is largely undiagnosed and unrecognized.  PAD is caused by plaque build-up or blockages in arteries outside of the heart such as the legs, arms, kidneys, intestine, brain or arms.  The blockages keep extremities and organs from receiving oxygen-rich blood.  Patients with PAD often have associated blockages in heart and brain vessels as the risk factors are typically the same.  These include smoking, diabetes, elevated lipids, hypertension, and a family history of atherosclerosis. 

Most patients with PAD either have no symptoms or they attribute their symptoms to arthritis or “getting old.”  When symptoms do occur, the most common are claudication (muscle cramping with activity caused by inadequate blood supply), hair loss, leg fatigue, and in extreme cases, severe leg pain, ulceration, or gangrene.  Patients with PAD, even with no symptoms, have an increased risk of dying, primarily from heart attacks and strokes. 

Statistics show that most amputations performed in the United States resulting from PAD could have been prevented.  The 30-day mortality rate following a major amputation ranges from 8-25 percent.  Additionally, amputations are more expensive and have higher morbidity and mortality than limb salvage procedures.

“Prevention of PAD is the best treatment, but early detection and the institution of medical therapy and lifestyle modifications can dramatically improve outcomes,” said Dr. Walker.  “We must stop the disease progression.”

Think you may have PAD?

logo_ncvh-small__contentimage@2x.pngDedicating his life to PAD prevention and limb salvage, Dr. Walker founded Cardiovascular Institute of the South in Houma, Louisiana in 1983 and New Cardiovascular Horizons, which is hosting its 18th annual conference May 31-June 2 in New Orleans at the Roosevelt Hotel.

Known as the peripheral event of the year, NCVH is a multispecialty conference focusing on limb salvage and amputation prevention techniques for patients suffering from PAD and critical limb ischemia (CLI).  The conference attracts world authorities and international attendees with one common goal—to improve care for patients through the use of cutting-edge technology and techniques.

The event is expected to draw more than 1,600 attendees and 100 exhibitors, with more than 300 scientific lectures from 200 faculty members.  One of the unique aspects of the conference is that it transmits more than 30 live and complex cases performed by some of the world’s best interventionists from locations around the world, including Germany, Italy and many more.

For 8 years, Dr. Craig Walker has also visited China annually to offer physician training on interventional treatments for PAD and limb salvage.  The population in China has a primarily western diet, high in saturated fat, red meat, and refined sugars.  Almost 110 million people in China have diabetes, and 28 percent of all adults and 50 percent of men in China are estimated to smoke regularly.  These factors all attribute to the prevalence of heart disease and vascular disease, creating the need for advanced vascular care and treatment throughout China.  For the past three years, Dr. Walker has also hosted a China mentorship program, which welcomed promising young Chinese physicians to the United States to learn new and innovative techniques to share with their colleagues back home.


Dr. Walker remains committed to education of PAD prevention and interventional treatments to save limbs and lives.  “PAD affects 20 million Americans, which is far more than breast cancer, and it is associated with a higher mortality rate,” explained Dr. Walker.  “We must raise awareness for prevention and treatment to profoundly lessen the need for amputations, and we need to improve the level of care we provide for our patients—both locally and internationally.” 

Patient Fred Goad, 76, suffered from unrelenting PAD pain for many years before developing a gangrenous toe, but his leg was ultimately saved by Dr. Walker.  “I hadn’t even heard of PAD until 6 months ago,” said Goad.  “After one conversation with Dr. Walker, I could tell that he knew the subject of PAD so well, and he was so passionate about treating it.  He was different than any other physician I had seen before.”

Although PAD can affect any gender or age, those most at risk include anyone over the age of 50, especially African Americans; those who smoke or have smoked; and those who have diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol or a personal or family history of vascular disease, heart attack, or stroke. 

About Craig Walker, MD
Dr. Craig Walker is a clinical professor of medicine at Tulane University School of Medicine and LSU School of Medicine in New Orleans.  He is the founder, president and medical director of Cardiovascular Institute of the South.  He serves as a clinical editor of Vascular Disease Management (VDM), a web-based platform that delivers timely clinical information on peripheral vascular disease published by HMP Communications, LLC.  He is also an editor for Global Vascular Digest, a publication of The Horizons International Peripheral Group, and he serves on the editorial boards for both of these publications.

About Cardiovascular Institute of the South
Founded by Dr. Craig Walker in 1983, Cardiovascular Institute of the South (CIS) is the largest single specialty cardiology practice in Louisiana.  CIS cardiologists represent nearly every specialty in heart and vascular medicine.  CIS is a world-leader in preventing, detecting, and treating cardiovascular disease.  The institute offers a comprehensive heart and vascular program with specialized medical professionals trained in nuclear cardiology, electrophysiology, prevention services, and lipid management, as well as interventional cardiovascular procedures. CIS is also world-renowned for making significant advancements in the development of non-surgical treatments to treat peripheral arterial disease (PAD). CIS has earned international acclaim as a leader of research, development and education.  With a team of more than 675 dedicated members, CIS provides comprehensive cardiovascular care to 14 communities in south Louisiana, with locations in Mississippi and affiliations in Texas.  CIS consistently positions itself at the forefront of technology by providing the most up-to-date technology coupled with compassionate care.  This mission has guided the institute for more than 33 years of service to south Louisiana.  For more information about CIS, call 1-800-425-2565 or visit

About NCVH
NCVH is an educational nonprofit foundation focused on multidisciplinary accredited conferences to advance the field of cardiovascular care using endovascular technologies, pharmacotherapy treatments, peripheral interventions and amputation prevention techniques.  With a goal to empower healthcare providers with knowledge of head-to-toe vascular treatments, NCVH strives to promote interdisciplinary teamwork and collaboration to address the continuum of patient care.

Educational activities include an annual multi-day conference, Fellows Course, Business of Peripheral Interventions Course, CO2 Angiography Society event and Vein Forum along with one-day regional meetings around the United States. Internationally, NCVH participates with focused educational sessions at various meetings in China and the United Arab Emirates.

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CIS Staff

Written by CIS Staff