Lower-limb amputations decrease among US diabetes patients

Foot amputation decreased significantly among people in the US living with diabetes, according to a research study published in the February 2012 issue of Diabetes Care.

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calculated the US hospitalization rates for nontraumatic lower-extremity amputation (NLEA) among people aged 40 years and older.

They found that the NLEA discharge rate per 1,000 persons diagnosed with diabetes decreased from 11.2 in 1996 to 3.9 in 2008. Meanwhile, the rate changed little during that time period for people without diabetes.

Hospitalizations rates among people with diabetes decreased significantly among all demographic groups from 1996 to 2008.

The study found that among people diagnosed with diabetes, patients aged 75 years and older had higher rates of lower-limb amputations than younger people. In addition, men had higher rates than women, and blacks had higher rates than whites.

Rates of lower-limb amputations continue to be significantly higher among people with diabetes than people without the disease.

“Continued efforts are needed to decease the prevalence of NLEA risk factors and to improve foot care among certain subgroups within the US diabetic population that are at higher risk,” wrote the authors.

Common diabetes complication

Diabetes is the leading cause of nontraumatic lower-limb amputations among adults in the US, according to the CDC.

More than 60 percent of nontraumatic lower-limb amputations occur in people with diabetes. The CDC reports that 65,700 nontraumatic lower-limb amputations were performed in people with diabetes in 2006.

People with diabetes can help prevent serious foot problems by taking preventative measures, according to the American Diabetes Association. These include checking feet daily for red spots, cuts, swelling and blisters, wearing shoes and socks at all times, and protecting feet from hot and cold.

Other precautions include washing feet every day and drying them thoroughly. Patients should keep skin soft and smooth with lotion and trim their toenails regularly.

Finally, patients should take care to keep the blood flowering to their feet. The American Diabetes Association also recommends being more physically active.

Source: Diabetes Care, American Diabetes Association

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