April 2, 2023

MedStar Offers Help to Prevent PAD

Access to Care

Posted for Medstar St. Mary’s Hospital

MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital is taking the initiative to educate residents of St. Mary’s County, Md., about Peripheral Artery Disease, an illness that often goes undiagnosed but, if not treated, can lead to the amputation of lower extremities, as well as pain and suffering, and possibly death.

This disease, known as PAD, affects between 8 and 12 million Americans older than 50. That’s one in 20 adults.

PAD occurs when arteries – particularly in the lower legs – become clogged with fatty deposits that limit blood flow. PAD increases the risk of heart attack and stroke, but timely detection and treatment can reduce these risks and improve your quality of life.

To educate communities about the prevention and risk factors associated with PAD, MedStar Health is working in collaboration with Dare to C.A.R.E to provide cost-free vascular screenings. Vascular screenings have been beneficial in uncovering blockages that may have otherwise gone undetected.
Screenings are quick and pain-free using ultrasound technology and appointments include blood pressure checks. If you are age 50 to 80, smoke, have diabetes, have high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol, you may be at increased risk for PAD. Schedule your screening today by calling 410-573-9483, ext. 202 or 203.

In addition to education and informal screenings, MedStar St. Mary’s offers a comprehensive approach to combating PAD from testing and diagnosis, to treatment and follow-up care. Technologically advanced diagnostic and surgical procedures are offered through the hospital’s angiography suite, which is complemented by the wound-care services offered through MSMH’s state-of-the-art Wound Healing Center.

“Many people who have PAD do not experience any symptoms,” said Charlene Rohulich, Operations Specialist for MedStar St. Mary’s Wound Healing Center. “Smokers, African Americans, people with high blood pressure, and individuals older than 50 with diabetes are at a much greater risk of having the disease.”

Typical symptoms of PAD include:

  • Fatigue, heaviness and cramping in the legs during activities such as walking or climbing stairs that goes away with rest;
  • Pain in the legs and/or feet at rest, disturbing sleep;
  • Sore or wounds on toes, feet or legs that heal slowly, poorly or not at all;
  • Color changes in the skin of the feet, including paleness or blueness;
  • A lower temperature in one leg compared to the other leg;
  • Poor nail growth and decreased hair growth on toes and legs.

The Wound Healing Center offers a variety of tests for PAD including an ankle-brachial index (ABI), a painless and easy procedure that involves comparison between blood pressure readings in the ankles and the arms, and a Doppler ultrasound to see which artery or arteries are blocked.

“MSMH offers tests for PAD and our Wound Healing Center treats chronic wounds which may have underlying conditions of PAD,” Rohulich said. “Many people don’t realize that lifestyle changes are an important part of managing PAD.”

The following action steps can help manage PAD.

  • Quitting smoking
  • Correcting blood pressure and cholesterol issues
  • Developing healthy eating habits
  • Creating an exercise plan
  • Consulting with a doctor about medications that may help PAD
  • Special procedures and surgeries to open arteries that have narrowed

“PAD can increase a person’s risk of heart attack, stroke, amputation and possibly death. It is important to discuss your risk factors with your doctor,” said Rohulich

MedStar St. Mary’s Wound Healing Center is equipped with two state-of-the-art hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) chambers, which use a combination of high pressure and pure oxygen to help patients heal at a quicker rate than traditional treatments. The facility s is one of nearly 800 centers in the nation managed by Healogics, the nation’s largest provider of advance wound care services.

People with wounds that have not improved with traditional methods of treatment may benefit from a visit to MedStar St. Mary’s Wound Healing Center. For more information about the Wound Healing Center, visit the hospital’s web site linked above.  To schedule an appointment, call 240-434-7670. To be referred to a vascular surgeon at MedStar St. Mary’s, call the Medical Staff Office at 301-475-6088.

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