ALEXANDRIA, La. -- The Centers for Disease Control report that African-Americans are more than twice as likely to have a foot or leg amputated due to diabetes than non-Hispanic whites.  Statistics show African-Americans are more prone to conditions that affect a body’s natural ability to heal wounds. In recognition of Black History Month, Dr. Robert Fresh and the staff of the Rapides Wound Healing 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:
It is especially important for diabetic patients to perform foot inspections daily and have their feet examined at least once a year by their healthcare 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. 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
: Approximately 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.

“By following these recommendations, you can enjoy a longer life by being in control of your health,” said Kim Lyons, Director of the Rapides Wound Healing Center. “Your primary care physician can help answer any questions or concerns you may have regarding these conditions.”
For more information on the treatment of chronic or infected wounds, contact the Rapides Wound Healing Center at (318) 769-4500.

Rapides Wound Healing Center is the leader in wound healing and disease management.  We are located at Rapides Regional Medical Center, 211 Fourth Street, Alexandria, La.