Preventative Diabetes Care Reduces Amputation Occurrence
Nearly 246 million people across the globe battle diabetes and its complications every year. However, medical care for diabetes is often not sought in time to prevent serious amputations, according to a recent survey by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA).
The APMA study, conducted by an independent research firm, found that 25 percent of the 600 people surveyed who had suffered an amputation from diabetes said they should have seen a specialist -- such as a podiatrist -- sooner. Thirty percent of amputees said that paying closer attention to the warning signs, such as "hot spots" and foot ulcers, would have encouraged them to visit their physician before signs worsened.
Three ethnic groups, African-Americans, Caucasians and Hispanic-Americans, participated in the study. In total, 75 percent of all survey respondents had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The remaining 25 percent were considered high risk for developing the disease. Results showed that Hispanic-Americans were the least likely group to be tested for diabetes, compared to their African-American and Caucasian counterparts. Those surveyed cited the reason for not being tested was primarily due to normal blood sugar levels or not having noticeable symptoms.
Interestingly, 7 percent of Caucasian respondents reported they had undergone a diabetic amputation, compared to just 3 percent of African-American and 2 percent of Hispanic-American respondents. These findings defy the more traditional findings shown in national studies, which have historically found African-American and Hispanic-American diabetics to have had more diabetes amputations than Caucasians.
"This survey shows just how immensely important it is for those diagnosed with diabetes, and those at risk, to have their feet examined by a physician during their annual checkup," said Dr. Ross Taubman, president of the APMA. "Regardless of one's ethnic background, taking a proactive approach to your health in asking your physician to check your feet can save both your limbs and your life."
To raise awareness about the significance of diabetes amputations, the APMA has embarked on a public service campaign entitled "Elect to Save Your Feet" (ESYF). Every 30 seconds, a lower-limb is lost to diabetes somewhere in the world. Those with diabetes are more prone to develop foot infections, called foot ulcers, which can quickly lead to amputation. Other common diabetes warning signs in the feet include:
-- a tingling or loss of feeling in the feet
-- change in the shape of the feet
-- loss of hair
-- cuts and scrapes that are slow to heal
An APMA member podiatrist, also known as a podiatric physician, is a specialist that is medically trained to diagnose and treat diabetic foot complications. As part of a complete diabetes management team, visiting a podiatrist on a regular basis can drastically increase chances of managing diabetes successfully.