The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 30.3 million people, or 9.4 percent of the U.S. population, have diabetes. Of that 30.3 million, nearly 24 percent are undiagnosed. Risk factors for diabetes include heredity, age, diet, activity level, and obesity.
People diagnosed with diabetes can also experience co-existing conditions such as heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, and lower-limb amputation. In 2010, about 73,000 non-traumatic lower-limb amputations were performed in adults aged 20 years or older with diagnosed diabetes. This accounts for 60 percent of non-traumatic lower-limb amputations. Diabetes-related amputations are related to chronic wounds caused by diabetes, especially diabetic foot ulcers. People with a non-traumatic lower-limb amputation have a 50 percent mortality rate within five years.
It is estimated that diabetes costs $245 billion in the United States directly and indirectly. This includes medical costs, disability, work loss, and premature death. The average medical cost for people diagnosed with diabetes is more than two times higher than for people without diabetes. Diabetes-related amputations are also costly for the healthcare system. Diabetes-related amputations cost approximately $38,077 per amputation.
The good news is that lower-limb amputations seem to be declining. The CDC reported in 2012 that the rate of lower- limb amputations related to diabetes declined by 65 percent between 1996 and 2008. Although the frequency of diabetes-related lower-limb amputations is going down, there is still much that can be done to help diabetes patients avoid amputations.
People with diabetes should pay special attention to their feet due to nerve damage and sensory loss. It is also important for them to wear proper footwear, inspect their feet daily and take extra care when trimming nails and treating cuts, scrapes, and blisters. If a wound does not heal or shows sign of infection, seek medical treatment. These precautions can help prevent diabetes-related amputations even more in the future.
For more information about living a healthy life and exercising with diabetes, contact the Center for Wound Healing at the Knox Medical Pavilion, 1451 Yauger Road, Suite 1C or 740.393.HEAL (4325).