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Weekend Check-Up


August 13, 2018


PAD Awareness Month


Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) develops when arteries become completely or partially blocked with plaque deposits that limit blood flow to legs. Just like clogged arteries in the heart, clogged arteries in the legs increase the risk of heart attack, stroke or even death.

Atherosclerosis (plaque buildup) in the legs does not always cause symptoms, so many people can have PAD and not know it. People who do experience symptoms, such as pain or cramping in the legs, often do not report them, thinking they are a natural part of aging or due to another cause. PAD affects more than 12 million people in the United States, which is why September is recognized as PAD Awareness Month.

Peripheral arterial disease increases in prevalence with age. One in every eight Americans older than 60 suffer from PAD. Common risk factors include high cholesterol, smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, inactivity, atherosclerosis and age. As many as 6 million people with diabetes has PAD, making it one of the primary co-morbidities of diabetes.

There are many possible side effects of atherosclerosis in the lower extremities, including claudication, non-healing leg ulcers and critical limb ischemia. 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.

“While some with PAD do not experience symptoms, people should be aware of certain factors that put them more at risk,” said D. Scott Covington, MD, FACS, CHWS, chief medical officer for Healogics, Inc., the nation’s largest provider of advanced wound care services. “Smokers are four times at greater risk and African-Americans are more than twice as likely to have PAD and one in every three people over the age of 50 with diabetes is likely to have the disease.”

WNH Wound Healing & Hyperbaric Center recommends the following action steps to help manage PAD:

• Lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, correcting blood pressure and cholesterol numbers. 

• 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.

• Medications — 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, contact WNH Wound Healing & Hyperbaric Center, 1300 E. Fifth Ave., in Winfield, 620.222.6205.

About WNH Wound Healing & Hyperbaric Center

The Wound Healing Center at William Newton Hospital is on the second floor of the main hospital, staffed by a team of highly specialized healthcare providers and nurses, specifically trained to treat non-healing, chronic wounds. The Center offers state-of-the-art outpatient clinical wound care with a multi-disciplinary team approach with a superior success rate in facilitating the healing process.

The "Weekend Check-Up" is a regular health column published in the Cowley Courier Traveler penned by employees and friends of William Newton Hospital.