Simple remedies could improve treatment of blocked arteries, quality-improvement study finds

Dr. Paul Michael Grossman

Patients who undergo treatment for blocked leg arteries suffer fewer complications and require fewer repeat procedures when they quit smoking and take an aspirin and statins ahead of time, according to new research funded by BCBSM. But few patients make the changes, and doctors often don’t prescribe the basic medical therapy, the quality improvement initiative found.

The study, led by the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center, looked at 1,357 patients identified in Blue Cross’ Cardiovascular Consortium, Vascular Interventions Collaborative database, a collaboration with 41 Michigan hospitals. The results were published online ahead of print in Circulation: Cardiovascular Interventions, a publication of the American Heart Association, and reported in

The collaborative looked at ways to decrease complications and improve medical therapy for patients with peripheral arterial disease, a blockage of the arteries outside of the heart most often marked by leg pain or cramping. PAD is often treated with angioplasty.


At admission, 46.7 of patients were on aspirin, a statin and did not smoke; at discharge 71 percent were on both drugs and either did not smoke or still smoked but had smoking cessation counseling.

“The modest improvement in statin prescription before patients were discharged signifies a missed opportunity to provide a life-saving intervention for PAD patients,” says lead study author P. Michael Grossman, M.D., an interventional cardiologist at the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center.

Users of both aspirin and statins had a lower incidence of peripheral events such as repeat (peripheral vascular interventions), limb salvage surgery and amputation – 7 percent compared to 15.8 percent.

The Cardiovascular Consortium, Vascular Interventions Collaborative is one of 12 Collaborative Quality Initiatives that BCBSM sponsors for Michigan hospitals as a way to improve clinical quality and patient safety while lowering costs. You can read more about our CQI programs at

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