The Amputation Epidemic in Black America: What Everyone Needs to Know
Peer-reviewed studies have revealed that black patients are three times more likely to lose limbs than the national average. In black populated areas with little or no access to quality healthcare, these rates alarmingly increase to eight times the national average.
Inequality in the National Healthcare System
In the words of Dr. Camara Jones, a physician and epidemiologist, race is not biology. For a long time now, there have been perceptions that there could be biologically-based differences in the races. This is a false narrative with scientists going a step further to prove that all humans largely have the same genetic make-up. Race is not the problem, racism is.
Unequal and inequitable healthcare in America has deep roots linked to slavery, legally sanctioned segregation, and structural racism. A recent study found that factors like healthcare access, household density, and pervasive discrimination are the driving forces for disparities in healthcare.
The Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) Pandemic
Peripheral artery disease (PAD) – a serious threat for aging adults – is a common cause of lower limb amputation. It involves constricted perfusion in the lower limbs due to clogging of the peripheral arteries. According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), PAD affects approximately 6.5 million Americans over 40 years. Further, African Americans are twice as likely to develop PAD.
Different studies conducted in 2019 discovered that over 5% of adults aged 25 years and above have PAD. Risk factors for PAD include diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and nicotine use. If not noticed early, PAD gets to an advanced stage, which often makes lower limb amputation the only option to manage it.
Another study shows that about 85% of the annual amputations that happen across America are preventable. Early diagnosis is vital for limb salvage. Unfortunately, black communities lack access to diagnostic tests used to identify PAD. Southern states like Mississippi, also called America’s “Diabetes belt” have a low wound care specialist to patient ratio. This impact of systemic racism is also greatly felt in low-income neighborhoods of California occupied by high numbers of minorities.
According to a Health Affairs study, the amputation rates vary ten-fold between low and high socioeconomic status communities. Most hospitals and healthcare centers that black people have access to have neglected amputation prevention. They don’t have capacity for proper wound care, which would otherwise massively boost amputation prevention.
As if to rub salt in the wound, amputations have been linked with higher fatality of patients. The five-year death rates for patients who undergo below-the-knee amputations range from 40 to 82%. Chances are that clogging of the peripheral arteries doesn’t stop even after amputation and continues to be a risk factor for heart attack and stroke.
Preventive care needs to be emphasized. The African American Community needs to invest significant time and resources in raising awareness of this pandemic. The real tragedy as previously explained is that most PAD cases are never diagnosed or treated early. If people can understand the risks of PAD, then at-risk individuals can go for early screening as well as learn to look out for telling signs. In most cases, if people monitor their blood circulation and sugar levels, amputations can be avoided. One exemplary doctor pushing for amputation prevention among blacks is Dr. Fakorade, based in Mississippi. More than 80% of patients at his clinic are Black with only 7% possessing commercial insurance. His zeal has helped so many avoid limb loss with only fewer than 10 of his patients suffering major amputations since 2016.
Better Healthcare for Black and African Americans
Beyond poor diet and lack of awareness, the disinvestment in minority communities has greatly fueled the amputation epidemic in Black America. The federal and state governments need to invest in preventive healthcare and make it accessible to black minorities.
In 2019, the Congressional PAD Caucus was formed to create awareness in Congress and communities about PAD, as well as improve research and treatments to reduce the rates of amputations in the U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, Jr. (D-N.J.), chair of this caucus, introduced the bipartisan Amputation Reduction and Compassion (ARC) Act (H.R.2631) with several others in congress. The Act aims at establishing a PAD education program for podiatrists, wound care specialists, vascular surgeons and other healthcare professionals as well as the public, with a special focus on at-risk populations. Further, this policy seeks to tackle unfair disparities that communities of color face when it comes to PAD management.
Leveraging Technology in Wound Care
By bringing together healthcare professionals such as podiatrists, vascular surgeons, and wound care specialists throughout the country, The Wound Docs is helping to reduce the sky-high rates of lower-limb amputations in Black communities. The Wound Docs is leveraging the power of advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and advanced biologics (skin substitutes) to significantly improve patient outcomes in wound care for African Americans.
Exercise Routines for Health and Fitness: Moderate and High-intensity Workouts
There are different types of exercises; you get better results when you choose a combination of activities that cater to your needs. Research shows that you can gain tremendous benefits by doing a mix of four types of exercise: endurance activities, strength training.
Foam Dressings: Benefits And Applications
Non-adhesive foam dressings require the use of an additional secondary dressing to be secured in position. In general, thin foam dressings have an adhesive wound contact layer.
Hydrogel Wound Dressings: Benefits And Applications
Hydrogel wound dressings belong to the class of modern wound dressings that actively stimulate the wound healing process. They are composed of synthetic polymers with a high water content formed in the shape of sheets, amorphous gels, and foams.
Alginate Wound Dressings: Benefits And Applications
In the United States, approximately 6 million people are affected by chronic wounds. The number is only expected to increase with the rise in the elderly population. Wound dressings form an essential component of wound care.
How Obesity and Overweight Affects Wound Healing
Obesity and excessive weight are conditions that continue to disproportionately affect Black and African American people in the United States.
Understanding and Tackling Hypertension in African American Communities
Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is more prevalent in African American communities than in other racial groups in the United States. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report indicated that about 5 in 10 non-Hispanic Black adults are hypertensive.
Understanding the Risk Factors for Pressure Ulcers
Pressure ulcers, also called bedsores or decubitus ulcers, are areas of localized damage to the skin and underlying tissue. They result from unrelieved pressure on the skin, friction, shear, or a combination of these.
The Role of Artificial Intelligence in Amputation Prevention
With the various technological advancements, amputation prevention through proper wound care is an attractive area for Artificial Intelligence (AI). In 2002, the whole world was in awe when Google brain, an Artificial Intelligence research team, could find a cat in a YouTube video.
The Role of Advanced Biologics (Skin Substitutes) in Wound Healing
For a long time now, limb amputation has affected the mobility of African Americans living with chronic diseases. Worse still, studies have shown that limb amputation among diabetes
Know Better, Do Better: Adopting Healthy Lifestyles for Amputation Prevention
Black Americans are twice as likely to develop pulmonary artery disease (PAD) – a leading cause of lower limb amputation – as any other race.
Tackling the Education Gap: Encouraging Medical Careers Among Black Students
Black and African American doctors make up 5% of all active physicians in the country – a mere 45,534 healthcare professionals. With the African American population at about 46.9 million, it is clear why Black communities are underserved.
The Amputation Epidemic in Black America: What Everyone Needs to Know
Peer-reviewed studies have revealed that black patients are three times more likely to lose limbs than the national average. In black populated areas with little or no access to quality healthcare...
Why Are Black People Losing Limbs More Often?
Now more than ever, Blacks and African Americans are losing lower extremity limbs. In recent years, there has been a stark difference in the amputation rates in Black and white communities.
Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) and Its Impact On Wound Care
Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) is the narrowing of the arteries in the arms, legs, and internal organs. It’s often caused by atherosclerosis which is the buildup of fat and cholesterol – called plaque – in the arteries.
Promoting Physical Exercise and Mobility in African American Communities
Inadequate physical inactivity has increasingly been recognized as a leading cause of mobility problems and early mortality in the world.
A Spotlight on Healthcare Disparities in African American Communities
Even with promising interventions such as the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, healthcare equality in the U.S. seems like a distant goal. African Americans are still more likely to be burdened with chronic diseases
Avenues for Promoting Health Awareness in African Communities
Disparities in healthcare remain a serious problem in African American communities. The history of slavery and other social determinants like systemic racism and access to healthy foods undoubtedly underlie the inexcusably poor state of African American health.
The State of Black Health in America
Over 150 years from the abolishment of slavery, healthcare in America is stilled marred by systemic racial discrimination and inequality. According to the CDC, 20.2 percent of black American adults are living in fair or poor health. This is a visibly higher population compared to white, non-Hispanic (14.1 percent).
Black Nutrition: Are You Eating The Right Diet?
Blacks have dietary preferences born from cultural influence. A study conducted on 7,000 men and women over 45 years living across the U.S. found that Black participants were more likely to eat a diet comprising highly processed foods compared to their White counterparts. Further, 46% of Blacks and 33% of Whites developed hypertension, with diet being the reason for much of the disparity.
Debridement: A Critical Component of Wound Treatment
Debridement is a part of the standard DIME technique for wound bed preparation in chronic wounds.
What is Negative Pressure Wound Therapy and How Does it Benefit Patients?
Negative Pressure Wound Therapy (NPWT) aims to facilitate wound healing by modifying the pressure over a wound surface.
The Benefits of Telemedicine To Wound Care
Telemedicine is particularly beneficial in long-term care facilities where a significant number of Americans living with chronic conditions such as non-healing wounds reside.
Why are Some Wounds Slow To Heal?
Chronic slow-healing wounds are those that fail to progress through a timely and predictable sequence of repair.
What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Wound Therapy and How Does it Benefit Patients?
Chronic non-healing wounds such as diabetic foot ulcers and venous insufficiency ulcers remain in the inflammatory state despite adequate management, prolonging wound healing, and adversely affecting the quality of life of patients.
Diagnosis and Management of Pressure Ulcers
Leading research estimates a prevalence of up to 27% of pressure ulcers in patients living at long-term care facilities. Elderly patients (above 70 years of age), obese patients, patients with limited mobility, and those with underlying medical conditions e.g., peripheral arterial disease, and multiple sclerosis are the most at risk of developing pressure ulcers.
Compression Therapy for Wound Management
For patients living with chronic wounds such as venous ulcers, compression therapy can help to ease symptoms and aid wound healing.
Democratizing Wound Care in Hospice Care Facilities
Hospice care facilities provide care for the terminally ill, including patients battling late-stage cancer, heart disease, and kidney failure, as well as those living with chronic non-healing wounds.
Dealing With Diabetic Foot Ulcers During The Pandemic
People living with diabetes represent a subset of individuals with special health needs due to the nature of the disease.
What Clinicians Need To Know About Wound Care Dressings
To healthcare experts, choosing the right dressing is critical to improving wound healing outcomes in patients.