HealthNotes: Blog Edition

Peripheral Arterial Disease & Wound Care

September 5, 2019

September is National PAD Awareness Month

One in every eight Americans over age 60 has peripheral arterial disease (PAD), which is approximately 12 million people. 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, which is a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances in your arteries. Left untreated, atherosclerosis of the coronary arteries can cause heart attacks, stroke if the carotid or vertebral arteries are involved, and non-healing leg ulcers if the lower extremity arteries are involved. Common risk factors include high cholesterol, smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, and age. Smokers are four times at greater risk, African Americans are three times a likely to have PAD, and one in every three people over the age of 50 with diabetes is likely to have the disease.

Diagnosing PAD

A healthcare professional can diagnose PAD with a review of medical history and lifestyle behavior (smoking), and by performing a physical exam and/or diagnostic test. For patients with chronic wounds, PAD can pose particular problems. Chronic toe and foot sores are common in people with PAD, as are cramping, numbness, weakness or heaviness in the leg muscles. However, many patients with PAD do not experience symptoms.

Managing PAD

  • Lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking and correcting blood pressure numbers can help improve blood circulation.
  • Develop healthy eating habits and an exercise plan to help increase circulation and reduce pain the the lower extremities. Walking, hiking and bike riding are good exercise options.
  • Medications may be prescribed to help manage PAD.

For more information about PAD, talk to your healthcare provider or contact Frisbie’s Wound Care Center at (603) 330-7914 to learn more.

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