PINEHURST – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African-Americans are more than twice as likely to have a foot or leg amputated due to diabetes than non-Hispanic whites.
David Strom, M.D.
“Many studies have shown that African-Americans have a higher prevalence of medical conditions that affect healing rates, including wounds often related to diabetes,” says David Strom, M.D., medical director of the Wound Care & Hyperbaric Center at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital.
Dr. Strom and the staff of the Wound Care & Hyperbaric Center offer these tips for African-Americans to help them reduce their risk of underlying conditions for chronic wounds:
Be informed: Twice as many African-American adults are diagnosed with diabetes by a doctor, and they are twice as likely to die from the disease as compared to non-Hispanic whites. Talk to your doctor about your family history and other risk factors.
Feet first: Nearly 8 out of 10 African-Americans ages 40 and older with diabetes had a foot examination in 2006. It is especially important for diabetics to perform foot inspections daily and to have their feet examined at least once a year by their health care provider.
Step it up: Only 26 percent of African-Americans over the age of 17 participate in a regular leisure physical activity. Exercise and physical activity can lead to better circulation, and improving the flow of oxygen to wounds is an important factor in healing.
Go slow: Extra pounds can worsen conditions that hinder wound healing and more than half of all African-American women over the age of 19 are categorized as obese while 37 percent of African-American men of the same age fall into this group. Since it takes our stomachs 20 minutes to tell our brains that we are full, consider using teaspoons, salad forks, children’s utensils or even chopsticks to help you take smaller bites and eat less.
Bring it down: About 40 percent of African-American men and women have hypertension. Help control your blood pressure by setting aside “me” time every day to stop multi-tasking and relax even if it is just taking a long bath, enjoying a favorite television show or listening to calming music.
Put it out: While cigarette smoking has declined, nearly one in four African-American men smoke compared to 18 percent of African-American women. Smoking can lead to hardening of the arteries and higher glucose and cholesterol levels in the blood.
Have it looked at: Seek treatment if a wound has not healed in 30 days or shows signs of infection such as an increase in pain, redness or swelling, foul wound odor or a change in color or amount of drainage from the wound.
For more information on the treatment of chronic or infected wounds, contact FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital’s Wound Care & Hyperbaric Center at (910) 715-5901 or visit www.firsthealth.org/wound.