Approximately 15% of adults have atherothrombosis or aneurysms affecting the aorta and arteries to the lower limbs, collectively defined as peripheral arterial disease (PAD). This prevalence is higher, and escalating in some sectors of the community, in particular the elderly and people with diabetes. In 2010 it was estimated that approximately 200 million people worldwide were living with lower limb artery narrowing or occlusion. This estimate represents an approximate 13% and 29% increase in prevalence in high and low income countries respectively compared to a decade earlier. PAD is associated with reduced health related quality of life and a high incidence of cardiovascular events and mortality. A large amount of evidence demonstrates there are significant management deficiencies for patients with PAD, with interventions focused on end stage disease yet limited efforts to prevent PAD complications or develop non-interventional approaches. These deficiencies have been fuelled by a lack of research focused specifically on patients with these diseases, with most current evidence being applied from other areas such as coronary heart disease.

The NHMRC funded National Centre for Research Excellence to improve the management of Peripheral Artery Disease (NCRE for PAD) has four central initiatives focused on facilitating research studies designed to improve the management of PAD. These initiatives are the establishment of a clinical trial network, development of a linked clinical and biobank registry, establishment of a preclinical development group and the creation of evidence based guidelines and implementation tools for PAD. The centre brings together experts in PAD, clinical trials and guideline development and implementation from a range of specialties dealing with PAD from centres throughout Australia.