Understanding Ischemia and Wound Care

Although the body is capable of healing wounds itself, sometimes the process halts or slows. The result is one or more wounds that become chronic or do not heal. Wounds may be slow to heal when prolonged inflammation ensues or bacteria are present.

However, a condition called ischemia is often the culprit that hinders the ability of a wound to heal. Read on to better understand ischemia and wound care.

What is Ischemia?

Ischemia is a medical condition when blood flow is restricted. Oxygen-rich blood cannot access certain areas of the body when arteries and veins prevent optimal, consistent flow. Insufficient blood supplies can negatively affect the brain, the heart, limbs, and other body parts. This nutrient and oxygen deprivation is often enough to cause cell death.

What Causes Ischemia?

Several factors can restrict the flow of blood and cause ischemia. Sometimes exercise, exposure to cold temperatures, and even an over-tight tourniquet are to blame. More commonly, atherosclerosis is the main cause of the condition. A gradual build-up of plaque inside the walls of arteries constricts the flow of blood as channels become narrower.

Sometimes a blood clot can dislodge and come to rest mid-stream within a crucial artery. This blockage limits blood flow and leads to ischemia.

How Does Ischemia Impact Wound Care?

Poor blood flow means appropriate amounts of oxygen and nutrients cannot feed tissue cells. New or existing sores will be very slow to heal. Ischemia tissues often lead to chronic wounds or ischemia ulcers. Ischemia ulcers usually appear on the lower limbs, feet, and toes.

While ischemia is present, wound healing is difficult but possible with the right care.

Ischemia and Connected Wound Care Technology

In order for the healing process to gain a foothold, blood flow must be restored. Remember, the human body is capable of self-healing as long as it is healthy. Wound care measures and technology all work towards the restoration of blood flow to aid in wound healing.

In addition to vigilant wound dressing and medication, new technology exists to help increase healing time for ischemia ulcers:

  • Sensors that detect and monitor compression pressure on limbs
  • Electrical stimulation therapy to hasten healing
  • 3D wound imaging cameras that accurately measure and document wounds
  • Electronic skin patches to monitor wound health
  • Systemic oxygen therapy strengthens natural wound healing
  • Extracellular matrix substitutes, or artificial skin, to replace damaged skin

Ischemia is a serious condition because slow-to-heal wounds are at risk for infection, gangrene, and amputation. Look for connected wound care technology to help restore healthy tissue and improve wound healing time.