February is American Heart Month which is a good time to discuss and educate all teams and patients about chronic wounds and heart disease. Heart Disease is the cause of nearly 700,000 Americans’ death each year, making it the leading cause of death. One of the most prevalent complications of Heart Disease is Peripheral Artery Disease, which affects 20 million Americans, putting them at risk of developing a non-healing wound susceptible to infection, sepsis, and even lower limb amputation.
With chronic wounds on the never ending rise, it is important to take note that three of the most commonly seen wounds are associated with PAD. Patients presenting with an Arterial Ulcer, Venous Ulcer, or Diabetic Neuropathic Ulcers should all be tested for Peripheral Artery Disease. Download our free infographic flier that highlights PAD by the numbers and Six Tips for a Healthy Heart to provide to patients below. Get your copy directly in your inbox by signing up for our WoundTok newsletter below.
- Arterial ulcers: Also referred to as ischemic ulcers, these are caused by damaged or blocked arteries which are unable to get nutrient-rich blood and oxygen to the lower extremities. This causes an ulcer or a break in the skin. Arterial ulcers are typically located on the foot or ankle.
- Venous ulcers: When patients have poor blood circulation in the legs, the blood backs up and “pools” in the veins, causing an ulcer. This can cause a painful open wound and edema on the ankles or lower leg.
- Diabetic neuropathic ulcers: Many patients with cardiovascular disease also suffer from diabetes. Of the 34.2 million Americans suffering from Diabetes, approximately 25 percent of individuals with diabetes will experience a non-healing open wound. Because diabetic neuropathy causes a loss of sensation in the limbs, many patients don’t know they have an ulcer until it becomes infected.
When checking for Peripheral Artery Disease in patients, looks for these identifying symptoms:
- Intermittent Claudication: The most common symptom of PAD is intermittent claudication. This involves pain that increases during physical activity and lessens at rest.
- Plaque: PAD occurs when plaque builds up in the arteries that carry blood to the head, organs and limbs.
- Limited Oxygen & Nutrients: Since PAD affects the lower extremities, lack of blood flow means oxygen and nutrients are not being correctly dispersed through the body and back to the heart for re-oxygenation.
For patients that have heart disease, or are in treatment for a non-healing wound, it’s important for them to pay attention to their cardiovascular health. A healthy heart stimulates the circulation of oxygen and nutrient-rich blood throughout the body, skin, and tissues and stimulates the body’s healing process. Here are six tips for a healthy heart:
- Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and leafy greens.
- Exercise for at least 30 minutes three times a week.
- Maintain a healthy weight in order to avoid high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
- Don’t smoke and limit alcohol intake.
- Get quality sleep & at least 8 hours a night.
- Practice stress relieving techniques.