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Peripheral artery disease: An often silent but deadly disease

Twenty percent of people who are 65 and older have peripheral artery disease (PAD), a condition that develops when the arteries that supply blood to the internal organs, arms and legs become completely or partially blocked as a result of atherosclerosis.

If left untreated, the disease can lead to difficult-to-heal wounds, lower limb amputation and even death.

The condition affects as many as 12 million people in the U.S., but despite the seriousness of PAD, 40% of people with the disease do not experience any symptoms.

Gritman Medical Center’s Wound Healing Center has a team of highly-trained wound specialists who can perform non-invasive tests for PAD, counsel patients on how to manage the illness and successfully treat chronic wounds associated with PAD.

“Our goal is to help people avoid amputation. Every limb is precious and worth saving,” Wound Healing Center Director Sharon Cofre said. “We are passionate about healing and helping our patients to have the best possible outcomes at our clinic.”

Advanced PAD results in delayed wound healing and greater risk for limb loss. Timely detection and treatment of any wound can reduce risk of amputation and improve quality of life. Gritman Wound Healing Center offers advanced wound care treatment, technology and research. That means patients heal faster than those who receive only generalized wound care.

Risk factors and symptoms of PAD:

  • Chronic wounds on the toes, feet or legs.
  • Those who smoke or have a history of smoking have up to four times greater risk.
  • One in every three diabetics over the age of 50 is likely to have the disease.
  • People with high blood pressure, high blood 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 thigh or calf 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 change color and 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.

Gritman Wound Healing Center is a member of the Healogics network. Headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, Healogics is the nation’s wound healing expert. Last year, more than 300,000 patients received advanced wound care through a nationwide network of over 600 wound care centers. The Healogics team is made up of almost 3,000 employees, 4,000 affiliated physicians and a Healogics specialty physician practice group of nearly 300. In addition to the company’s network of outpatient centers, Healogics partners with over 300 skilled nursing facilities to care for patients with chronic wounds and provides inpatient consults at more than 80 partner hospitals.

For more information on managing PAD and treating chronic or infected wounds, contact Gritman Wound Healing Center at 208-882-4325.

Learn more about PAD in the Gritman Online Clinic.