baptist h heartPADUCAH, Ky. (2/11/19) — February is both Black History Month and American Heart Month, an initiative created to raise awareness about cardiovascular disease and how people can prevent it. 
 
African-Americans are at a greater risk of cardiovascular disease than other Americans. Factors such as high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes that predispose individuals to cardiovascular issues are even more prevalent in the African-American community, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These factors also can affect the body’s natural ability heal wounds.
 
Baptist Health Wound Care is working to spread awareness of how cardiovascular diseases can affect the wound healing process. Diseases such as coronary artery disease, peripheral artery disease, strokes, arrhythmia, vascular disease and other issues with the heart and vessels can cause blockages that obstruct the flow of blood needed for proper wound healing.
 
Chronic wounds affect approximately 6.7 million people in the U.S., and, if left untreated, an unhealed wound can lead to a diminished quality of life and infection. Wounds on the feet and legs can even lead to possible amputation. The Centers of Disease Control report that African-Americans are more than twice as likely as Caucasians to have a foot or leg amputated due to diabetes, one of the biggest contributors to cardiovascular disease and wounds.
 
Baptist Health Wound Care offers these tips to everyone to help reduce the risk of underlying conditions for chronic wounds and to live a more heart healthy lifestyle.

• Be informed:  Have you been diagnosed with diabetes or hypertension? Do you have an open wound that hasn’t healed?  Keep your appointments with your medical provider. Be honest with them. Ask questions. Discuss your family history and risk factors for cardiovascular diseases and other conditions.
• Feet first:  Have you examined your feet recently or asked your healthcare provider to examine your feet? If you suffer from diabetes, it is especially important that you perform foot inspections to determine any sores, signs of infection or areas of concern.
• Put it out:  Don’t smoke or use tobacco of any kind.  Smoking is one of the most significant risk factors for developing heart disease and is a general cause of slow-healing wounds.
• Color and rough it up:  Eat a diet that is heart-healthy. This includes lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and other low-fat sources of protein. This will help in maintaining a healthy weight which can serve to reduce high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. All of these chronic conditions can lead to heart disease.
• Step it up:  Exercise and physical activity can lead to better circulation, and improving the flow of oxygen to wounds is an important factor in healing.  Living an active lifestyle with 30 minutes of daily exercise is best for overall health.

If you or someone you love has a wound that has not healed in 30 days or shows signs of infection, contact Baptist Health Wound Care at 270.575.2414. Physician referrals are not required.

SurfKY News
Information by Angie Timmons

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