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Dr. Regina Phillips reviews the hyperbaric chambers to make sure they are ready for patients with PAD.

Dr. Regina Phillips, medical director for Russell Medical’s Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine Center, frequently sees patients with peripheral artery disease. PAD is 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. 

PAD affects between 8 million and 12 million people in the U.S., contributes to difficult-to-heal wounds and is associated with amputation. Though the symptoms may be serious, an astonishing 40 percent of people with PAD do not experience any symptoms.

Dr. Phillips and her staff treat chronic wounds with underlying conditions of the disease, as well as perform non-invasive tests for PAD. They also counsel patients on how to manage the illness, which could lead to lower limb amputation and death if left untreated. 

In addition to chronic wounds on the toes, feet or legs, Dr. Phillips notes the following risk factors and symptoms of PAD:

• 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 people get older, the risk increases, as 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.

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. Russell Medical’s wound care center offers advanced wound care treatment, technology and research. That means patients heal faster than those who receive only generalized wound care. Chronic, non-healing wounds need advanced wound care.

This September, join healthcare providers across the country to raise awareness of PAD, chronic wounds and amputation. Look for the hashtag  #WhiteSockCampaign. Individuals are encouraged to wear one white sock on one leg for the entire day on Wednesday, Sept. 10. Join the fun and get a leg up on vascular disease.  

~ Susan Foy is marketing director at Russell Medical.