Peripheral Arterial Disease Can be Silent but Serious

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Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) is a narrowing of the arteries that reduces blood flow to the legs. It affects between eight and 12 million people in the United States. While the majority of people with the condition don’t know they have it, they have the same five-year mortality rate of those with breast and colorectal cancer.

M-8338-PAD-Infographic (edited) (2)PAD is often underdiagnosed by health care professionals. One in 20 Americans over age 50 has PAD, and one in three Americans over 50 with diabetes is likely to have it. If left untreated, PAD can lead to chronic non-healing wounds, lower limb amputation and even death.

“Often there are no symptoms of PAD, so it is important to be aware of factors that put you more at risk,” said James Shepich, M.D., general surgeon and medical director of MidMichigan’s Wound Treatment Center in Midland. “These include smoking, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or a personal history of heart or vascular disease. People are also more likely to get PAD as they get older, and African-Americans are twice as likely as Caucasians to have the disease.”

Though many people may not have noticeable symptoms, the following could be warning signs of PAD. If you have any of these symptoms, you should tell your doctor:

  • Leg pain or cramping while walking that goes away after resting
  • Leg or foot pain that keeps you from sleeping
  • Feet that are pale, blue or cold to the touch
  • Toenails that do not grow as well as before
  • Decreased hair growth on the toes and legs

Treatments for PAD may include lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise, physical therapy, medications, and in extreme cases, surgery.

PAD can also lead to ulcers on the legs and feet that are stubborn and difficult to heal. The Wound Treatment Center at MidMichigan Health specializes in treating chronic, non-healing wounds like those related to PAD.

With locations in Alpena, Alma, Clare, Midland and West Branch, MidMichigan’s Wound Treatment Centers take a multi-disciplinary approach to treat not only the wound, but also the underlying conditions that can otherwise block healing. These include diabetes, vascular conditions, infectious disease and more. The Centers have specialized equipment and protocols that result in a median healing  time of 28 days and 94 percent patient satisfaction, placing them in the top 21 percent of nearly 800 Healogics (R) centers nationwide.

Treatments for leg ulcers may include dressings, compression therapy and hyperbaric oxygen therapy to increase the blood flow and reintroduce the body’s innate ability to heal.


If you or someone you love is living with a non-healing wound, don’t wait – seek specialized care. Call the Wound Treatment Centers toll free at (877) 683-0800.


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