PAD hits diabetics, blacks hardest

Staff report

September 14, 2013

LUMBERTON — Peripheral Arterial Disease narrows leg arteries, reduces blood flow and affects between 8 million and 12 million people in the U.S. While the majority of people with the condition don’t know they have it, they have the same five-year mortality rate as those with breast and colorectal cancer.

Southeastern Wound Healing Center, a member of the Healogics network and an affiliate of Southeastern Health, treats chronic wounds with underlying conditions of the disease, performs non-invasive tests for PAD and counsels patients on how to manage the illness which can, if left untreated, lead to lower limb amputation and death.

“One in every 20 Americans older than 50 has PAD and those with the condition are at increased risk of heart attack and stroke, making them six times more likely to die within 10 years than those without the disease,” said Katy Rowland, Healogics’ chief clinical officer. “Often there are no symptoms, so it is important that people be aware of factors that put them more at risk.”

Healogics is the nation’s leader in advanced wound care services, treating more than 200,000 patients annually.

In addition to chronic wounds on the toes, feet or legs, experts at Southeastern Wound Healing Center give the following risk factors and symptoms of PAD:

— Those who smoke or have a history of smoking have up to four times greater risk.

— Blacks are more than twice as likely to have PAD as their white counterparts.

— One in every three diabetics over the age of 50 is likely to have the disease.

— People with high blood pressure, high cholesterol or a personal history of vascular disease, heart attack or stroke are at greater risk.

— As you get older, the risk increases since the disease develops gradually.

— While some people dismiss it as a sign of aging, nearly everyone with PAD is unable to walk as fast or as far as they could before.

— A typical sign is experiencing fatigue or a heaviness in the limbs or cramping in the buttocks, thighs or calfs after walking or climbing stairs and then feeling better after resting.

— Leg or foot pain may cause trouble sleeping for those with PAD.

— The skin of the feet may become pale or turn blue.

— Toenails that do not grow as well as before and decreased hair growth on the toes and legs may be another symptom.

Southeastern Wound Healing Center offers hyperbaric oxygen therapy to increase the blood flow and reintroduce the body’s innate ability to heal. Other treatments may include making lifestyle changes to modify diet or add an exercise regimen, physical therapy, medications and, in extreme cases, surgery may be needed.

For information on managing PAD and treating chronic or infected wounds, contact Southeastern Wound Healing Center, located at 103 W. 27th St. in Lumberton or call 910-738-3836.