Diabetes and Amputation Prevention


An estimated 30.3 million people in the United States (9.4 percent of the population) have diabetes, including 7.2 million who are unaware they are living with the disease. The percentage of adults with diabetes increases with age, reaching a high of 25.2 percent among those aged 65 years or older. In addition to age, risk factors for diabetes include diet, activity level, obesity and heredity. High blood sugar levels, poor circulation, immune systems issues, nerve damage and infection may contribute to a diabetic foot ulcer.

With America’s diabetic population expected to nearly double by 2030, it is important that communities understand the risks and know the facts associated with diabetic foot ulcers. Approximately 25 percent of people living with diabetes will develop a foot ulcer, including the two million who are suffering from one right now. As many as 40 percent of those with a healed diabetic foot ulcer will develop a new ulcer within a year. An estimated 14 to 24 percent of people with foot ulcers will experience an amputation. Diabetes is the leading cause of limb loss, accounting for 65,000 amputations annually. Of the patients who have undergone one amputation, 55 percent will require amputation on the second leg. An amputation results in decreased quality of life, increased medical costs and a significantly higher risk of mortality. Within two to three years of an amputation, nearly fifty percent of patients will die.

Early detection and intervention can help to mitigate the possibility of limb loss. AGH’s Wound Healing Center recommends the following to help prevent diabetic foot ulcers:
• Stop smoking immediately
• Comprehensive foot examinations each time you visit your healthcare provider (at least four times a year)
• Daily self-inspections of the feet, or have a family member perform the inspection
• Regular care of the feet including cleaning toenails and taking care of corns and calluses
• Choose supportive, proper footwear (shoes and socks)
• Take steps to improve circulation such as eating healthier and exercising on a regular basis

Proper wound care is imperative to healing diabetic foot ulcers. AGH's Wound Healing Center offers a number of leading-edge treatments including Total Contact Casting (TCC), Negative Pressure Wound Therapy and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. These specialized therapies can aid in wound closure, new tissue growth, wound tissue regeneration and much more.

For more information about diabetic foot ulcers or how we may be able to help avoid amputation, contact AGH’s Wound Healing Center at (269) 686-4325.

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