Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a condition that develops when the arteries that supply blood to the arms or legs become completely or partially blocked as a result of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis refers to the buildup of fats, cholesterol and other substances in and on your artery walls, which can restrict blood flow. When the lower extremities are involved, claudication, non-healing leg ulcers and critical limb ischemia can occur. One in every 8 Americans older than 60 years of age have PAD. In all, PAD affects as many as 12 million people in the United States.
Slightly more men than women have the disease. In addition to atherosclerosis, other common risk factors include high cholesterol, smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes and age. Due to the prevalence of PAD, September was named Peripheral Arterial Disease Awareness Month by the U.S. Senate in 2007.
PAD poses particular problems for healthcare professionals and patients with chronic wounds. Chronic toe and foot sores are common in people with PAD, as are cramping, numbness, weakness or heaviness in the leg muscles. Many patients with PAD do not experience symptoms. That’s why the Goshen Wound Center performs tests for PAD, treats chronic wounds which may have underlying conditions of PAD and counsels patients on how to manage PAD.
“Many times, patients suffering from PAD go undiagnosed. The symptoms can be vague and may appear related to other issues. When a PAD patient becomes wounded, the wounds are slow to heal, there is often dead tissue at the wound site which can lead to gangrene and even amputation if not treated immediately. In fact, patients over the age of 65 with PAD are two to three times more likely to undergo an amputation,” said Dr. Mark Ranzinger, Director of Goshen Wound Center. “We want our patients at Goshen to be aware of PAD and seek the care of their physicians if they have these symptoms to prevent wounds and amputation.”
The wound center recommends the following action steps to help manage PAD:
- Lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, correcting blood pressure and cholesterol numbers
- Managing these conditions can help improve blood circulation.
- Develop healthy eating habits and an exercise plan
- Exercising can help increase the circulation and reduce pain in the lower extremities. Walking, hiking and bike riding are good exercise options. A personal trainer can help tailor a custom workout plan that best fits a person’s needs.
- Always consult with a physician about which medications may help PAD and if they are needed.
- Special procedures and surgeries
- In some severe cases of PAD, surgery may be needed to open arteries that have narrowed. Consult with a physician to see if surgery is a necessary treatment.
For more information about how your heart health can affect wound healing, contact the Goshen Wound Center at 2006 S. Main St., Ste. B Goshen, IN 46526 or (574) 364-4560.
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