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According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, more than 2.5 million people in the United States develop pressure ulcers. These most commonly occur when patients spend most of their time in one spot—whether it be in a bed or a chair. Patients who suffer from this condition tend to be older patients who are unable to be as mobile as they once used to be or differently abled patients who may have a hard time moving parts of their bodies on their own. Pressure ulcers can be made worse by various factors that may surprise you. This includes hypertension.

Are You Suffering from Any of These Symptoms?

  • Painful sores on the back, hips, ankles, or buttocks
  • Persistent redness of the skin
  • Pain and itchiness in the affected area
  • Skin discoloration
  • Skin that’s softer or firmer than the surrounding areas
  • Swelling
  • Open wounds on the skin that won’t heal
  • Pus-like drainage

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There Are Generally Six Stages of Pressure Ulcers

Stage 1

A patient’s skin is painful but hasn’t gotten to the point of sores, open wounds, or breaks in the skin. The skin appears red, or it may differ in color from surrounding areas.

Stage 2

A shallow open ulcer forms as the skin breaks open or wears away. Patients notice the area is extremely tender and painful, especially to the touch, and it only becomes worse as it expands to deeper layers of the skin.

Stage 3

The sore is getting worse at this point and has extended into deeper layers of the skin. Fat may be visible to the naked eye, but bone, tendon, or muscle are not exposed.

Stage 4

At this stage, the pressure ulcer is so advanced that it has reached the muscle and bone and resulted in significant damage to deeper tissues, tendons, and joints.

Stage 5

The area is purple and extremely painful, mushy, and warmer or cooler compared to adjacent tissue.

Stage 6

This stage is reserved for pressure ulcers that have gone untreated so long that there is tissue loss. This is a worst-case scenario that should be discussed immediately with a medical professional.

Pressure Ulcers illustration

It is commonly understood that pressure ulcers or bedsores result from lying down or sitting in one spot for extended periods. This is usually the case with the elderly or someone confined to bed because of an illness or surgery. The constant pressure on bony areas such as their hips, ankles, back, and buttocks pinches off blood vessels and decreases proper blood flow to those areas—forcing the skin to crack or break.

Bedsores and pressure ulcers may be made worse with poor eating habits that influence the condition of your skin for the worse, including diets that lack vitamins, minerals, and naturally occurring collagens. There is also growing evidence to support that hypertension is a contributing factor to worsening pressure ulcer signs and symptoms.

Can Hypertension Make Pressure Ulcers Worse?

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is defined as blood pressure above 140/90 and is considered severe if the pressure is above 180/120. There are more than 3 million cases of hypertension in the United States each year. The scary part is that it often has no symptoms. It is instead characterized by an extreme amount of blood pressure exerted against the walls of our blood vessels. When this happens, our veins and arteries struggle to carry enough blood from our heart to other parts of our body. Because blood flow isn’t getting to all areas of the body, oxygen isn’t getting there, either.

Granted, it’s normal for our blood pressure to rise and fall throughout the day, and there are times when it is too elevated. But only about 1 in 4 adults with hypertension have their condition under control, which can cause health problems ranging from heart disease to strokes, kidney failure, and death.

Wounds need proper blood flow, oxygen, and circulation to aid in the recovery process and avoid infection. When there’s no oxygen, tissue starts to die. As a result, what appears to be a simple wound doesn’t heal as quickly. While hypertension may not directly cause pressure ulcers, it does reduce oxygen flow throughout the body, which is essential for wound healing. Therefore, hypertension is not a condition you want to pair with pressure ulcers and will likely require serious intervention to prevent complications.

How Can I Manage My High Blood Pressure?

1. Move the body regularly

Moving body parts is a great way to promote blood flow throughout the body and reduce hypertension. For someone bedridden with pressure ulcers having regular, ongoing care to help the patient move is key.

2. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, smoking, and other stimulants

Stimulants and anything else you put into your body constrict blood vessels and elevate blood pressure, causing strain and stress on your veins in your lower extremities.

3. Cut back on salt

Per the American Heart Association, too much salt and sodium in your bloodstream increase blood pressure, stretching blood vessel walls and creating plaque that can block blood flow.

Pressure ulcers affected by hypertension?

4. Soothe your mind and body

When you have chronic wounds that won’t heal, especially when they’re painful, they can be stressful and lead to high blood pressure. Manage stress through meditation, music, breathing exercises, and other techniques.

5. Lose weight

According to the World Health Organization, worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975. Furthermore, obesity is known to complicate several health issues, including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer, hypertension, and, yes, wound healing.

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Safe and Effective Pressure Ulcer Treatment

Knowing the best course of action for your chronic wound condition can be scary for someone who is not used to these conditions or has been living with discomfort for an extended period of time. Our wound healing experts offer advanced solutions to treat and prevent open wounds, guard against infection, and get you back to enjoying life. In addition, we can recommend other support services—such as nutritional support, quitting smoking, or managing blood vessel conditions—to give you the best possible outcome.

At StrideWoundCare, we create a treatment plan that meets your individual needs while keeping you involved in the process. For a consultation with one of our experts, please contact us at 214-285-9200 or complete the appointment form.

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StrideWoundCare serves the D/FW area including Highland Park, University Park, Park Cities, Plano, Frisco, Allen, McKinney, Irving, Grand Prairie, Denton, Flower Mound, Sherman, Dennison, HEB, Hutchins, Duncanville, DeSoto, Cedar Hill, Lancaster, Cockrell Hill, Dallas, Mesquite, Lewisville, Craig Ranch, Arlington, Fort Worth, Addison, Carrollton, Richardson, Garland, and all North Texas.

This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Prior to starting any new treatment or questions regarding a medical condition, always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health provider.