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Chronic leg ulcers: an underestimated problem in primary health care among elderly patients.
  1. O Nelzén,
  2. D Bergqvist,
  3. A Lindhagen,
  4. T Hallböök
  1. Department of Surgery, Kärnsjukhuset, Skövde, Sweden.

    Abstract

    STUDY OBJECTIVE--The aim was to establish leg ulcer point prevalence, basal patient characteristics, and level of caretaking. DESIGN--The study was a postal cross sectional survey. The validity was ensured by examining a randomly selected sample of reported patients. Responding health care officials were asked to report all patients with an open wound below knee (including foot ulcer) which did not heal or was supposed to heal within a six week period after onset of ulceration. Response rate was 92%. SETTING--Inpatient and outpatient care in hospitals, community health care, and private nursing homes within Skaraborg county, with a population of 270,800. PARTICIPANTS--827 individual patients were found with active leg ulcers, 526 women and 301 men. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS--Age adjusted sex ratio of ulcer patients was 1:1.4 (M:F). The median age was 78 years for women and 76 for men; 700 patients (85%) were older than 64 years. The point prevalence for active leg ulcers was 3.0/1000 total population. District nurses provided care for 680 patients (82%), 106 (13%) were in hospital care, and 41 (5%) were managed by outpatient departments. CONCLUSIONS--There has been an underestimation of the leg ulcer problem among elderly patients, especially men. With an expected increasing number of elderly people it is important that this problem is recognised and measures taken to improve the primary care of these patients.

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