Preventing deadly bedsores

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: February 2nd, 2007
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

After suffering a stroke, heart attack or other debilitating illness or injury, bed rest is usually prescribed or unavoidable. But if you can’t move around while lying in bed, pressure can build up on parts of the body, causing skin and other tissues to die.

The resulting bedsores, like any open wound, can trigger infections that may spread to surrounding skin, deeper tissue, bone and the blood. They can also cause loss of fluid and protein, leaving patients dehydrated and malnourished. Bedsores are the underlying cause of death of several thousand Americans each year.

But in case you thought I got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning, I have some good news to report. According to the Harvard Health Letter, the fatality rate for severe bed sores has declined in the past decade because of improved prevention and treatment efforts.

To treat a bedsore, keep it clean and covered. Dead tissue may need to be removed because it can interfere with the growth of healthy tissue.

But it’s much better to take steps to prevent these painful, dangerous and costly sores from occurring in the first place. Doctors recommend using dynamic or static mattresses and added padding for bed rest. And shift positions at least every two hours to relieve pressure on specific areas.

Consuming more protein and moisturizing the skin also can help.

With simple steps like these, you don’t always have to take bed sores… lying down.