Peripheral Arterial Disease: an Often-Overlooked Cause of Poor Wound Healing

This article was published in Today’s Wound Clinic, Volume 7, Issue 5 (June/July) 2013. 

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) of the lower limbs is often neglected when evaluating reasons for poor wound healing, particularly in elderly patients. Affecting roughly 12-14% of the general US population, PAD increases with age and affects up to 20% of patients who are older than 75.1 Risk factors include diabetes mellitus, hypertension, smoking, and hyperlipidemia. PAD can also critically hamper one’s wound healing as well as prevent optimum delivery of systemic antibiotics, which can result in polymicrobial infections and advancement to osteomyelitis. The healing of any wound of the lower extremity, including those from trauma, pressure, or venous stasis, can be adversely affected by poor perfusion associated with atherosclerotic disease.

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Dr. Jeffrey M. Levine has authored numerous articles on topics related to healthcare of the elderly. These include medical history, prevention and treatment of chronic wounds such as pressure ulcers, elder neglect and abuse, and physical restraints. He has also edited a book on legal and regulatory aspects of nursing homes.