Podiatry & Cardiovascular Medicine: What’s the Connection?

SSSL0331Our Podiatrists, Drs. Desmond Bell & David Swain, have dedicated their careers to helping those suffering with wounds of the legs and feet. So what exactly does podiatry have to do with the heart?

“85-95% of my patients need a cardiologist,” Dr. Swain says, “I love knowing a trusted cardiologist is just a few rooms down and my patient can get their cardiovascular care in the same world class institution they are receiving their wound care.”

Drs. Bell and Swain are not your general podiatrists. They specialize in treating diabetic foot ulcers, arterial ulcers, venous ulcers, traumatic wounds, pressure ulcers, surgical wounds, and any other non-healing wounds of the feet and legs.

“We are seeing the same patients cardiologists are seeing,” Dr. Bell says. Many of the patients with these types of wounds and ulcers have co-morbidities such as diabetes and hypertension in addition to cardiac issues such as coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure. Patients with diabetic foot ulcers are at an increased risk for heart attack and stroke. In fact, cardiac disease is the number one killer of diabetic patients. All of these patients are in need of a cardiologist.

“Dr. Khatib and I started to get to know each other while we were working on mutual patients,” Dr. Bell says, “These were the patients that were told nothing could be done for them and they would have to face an amputation.”

First Coast Cardiovascular Institute has built an Amputation Prevention Program for these patients who have been told nothing could be done for them. “We are trying to be proactive and prevent our patients with these wounds from getting to a state where amputation is their only choice,” Dr. Khatib says.

Amputation is often the result of an artery blockage in the lower extremities. This often happens in conditions such as peripheral artery disease. Our cardiologists and podiatrists work together to prevent this blockage from having detrimental consequences. Our podiatrists detect the blockage and our cardiologists open the blood vessels to allow blood to flow through, bypassing the need for amputation.

Our Amputation Prevention Program has helped hundreds of patients avoid an amputation. Of these patients is William Cassels, a veteran and patient of Dr. Khatib.

“I was on my way to the amputation table,” Cassels said, “Dr. Khatib saved my leg. The First Coast Cardiovascular team was magnificent. I couldn’t recommend them more highly.”

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