Foot, Leg Amputations Decrease for Diabetic Adults

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Fewer adults with diabetes are requiring foot or leg amputations as a complication of their condition, a new government study says.

Between 1996 and 2008, the rate of lower-limb amputations among adults with diabetes ages 40 and older declined 65 percent, from 11.2 amputations per 1,000 patients in 1996 to 3.9 amputations per 1,000 patients in 2008, according to the report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Improvements in blood sugar control, foot care and diabetes management, along with declines in cardiovascular disease, likely contributed to the drop, the researchers said.

While the findings are encouraging, "more work is needed to reduce the disparities among certain populations," said study researcher Nilka Ríos Burrows, an epidemiologist with CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation.

For instance, men had higher rates of leg and foot amputations than women (6 per 1,000, versus 1.9 per 1,000), and blacks had higher rates than whites (4.9 per 1,000 versus 2.9 per 1,000).  Adults ages 75 and older were the age group with the highest rate, with 6.2 amputations per 1,000 patients.

"We must continue to increase awareness of the devastating health complications of diabetes," Burrows said.

The study is published in the February issue of the journal Diabetes Care.

Diabetes is the leading cause of lower-limb amputations in the United States. In the study, the rate of lower-limb amputations among those with diabetes in 2008 was still about eight times the rate among those without diabetes.

Moreover,the rate of lower-limb amputations among diabetics may increase as people with diabetes live longer with their disease.

The researchers noted that they included in the study only nontraumatic lower-limb amputations, which are caused by circulatory problems common among people with diabetes, and not amputations caused by injuries.

Diabetes is also the leading cause of kidney failure and new cases of blindness among adults, and the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.  People with diabetes are at increased risk of other complications such as heart attacks, strokes and high blood pressure.

Pass it on: The rate of lower limb amputation among adults with diabetes has declined in recent years.

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Live Science Staff
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