November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. Rather than look at it as another disease-of-the-month observation, let’s renew our familiarity with some of the statistics and implications of this prevalent condition.
The facts surrounding diabetes are staggering and have plagued clinicians, doctors and researchers for decades. One of the many critical complications faced by those with diabetes is the development of a diabetic foot ulcer (DFU), which affects approximately 15% of all diabetic patients.1
Beyond the Wound
Foot ulcers are a common complication of diabetes that is poorly managed through diet, insulin control and exercise.2 Anyone with diabetes is susceptible to DFUs, which are painful and challenging to treat, chronic, slow to heal, and prone to infection.3 For those with infected ulcers that cannot be healed or develop gangrene, the wound can result in lower limb amputation. The rate of diabetic amputations has grown by 50% in recent years. Minorities and lower-income patients are more likely than white Americans or those with higher income and education levels to lose a lower limb.4 Every day, 230 Americans with diabetes will suffer an amputation.5
By shining a light on the effects that amputation can have on a patient, the motivation to find more ways to prevent this devastating process gains strength. Quality of life for DFU and amputee patients can be severely affected, and depression is common.6 Loss of mobility, inability to perform tasks and lack of movement are just some of the long-term adverse effects. Loss of mobility often leads to a lack of movement and exercise, contributing to an earlier death. For those who end up having a minor lower-limb amputation, the five-year mortality rate is 46.2%. For those who suffer a major amputation, the number rises to 56.6%.7 To see these numbers decrease, methods of prevention, education, and intervention are essential.
Innovative Intervention is Key
With continuing advances in medical technology, efforts to combat the growing number of DFU-related amputations are within reach. EHRs and artificial intelligence continue to have a tremendous impact on clinicians’ abilities to make informed decisions that lead to better outcomes. Net Health is committed to helping its clinician partners access the tools and resources needed to prevent unnecessary amputations. Our mobile imaging technology and the predictive analytical capabilities found in Net Health’s Risk of Amputation Indicator software assist with identifying wounds that are not healing so that proper interventions can be made.
The long and troubling history of DFU-related amputations is complicated, but using the newest forms of high-tech analysis and documentation for treating DFUs is not. Proven tools and resources are available. Net Health can help organizations access and implement a range of proven solutions. While we have a long way to go in preventing DFU-related amputations in the United States, the progress being made in the fight against negative outcomes for diabetic patients can be celebrated this and every month.
We can all make a difference. So let’s join together and embrace new ways to prevent diabetic-related amputations.
Discover more about the latest tools to prevent amputations and better manage diabetic-related wounds. Visit Net Health, or call 800.411.6281.
Learn more about Diabetes Awareness Month.
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1Vibha, S.P., Kulkarni, M.M., Kirthinath Ballala, A.B. et al. Community-based study to assess the prevalence of diabetic foot syndrome and associated risk factors among people with diabetes mellitus.BMC Endocr Disord 18, 43. 2018.
3University of Leeds. True impact of diabetic foot ulcers. Science Daily. 8 November 2017
4Presser, Lizzie. The Black American Amputation Epidemic The Black American Amputation Epidemic Propublica. 19 May 2020.
5Carrfey, Mary. Diabetic Amputations May Be Rising in the United States. AJMC. 13 December 2018.
6Sharif, Faiza and Anna Zaheer. Quality of Life and Depression among Lower Limb Amputees. ResearchGate. September 2020.
7Armstrong, D.G., Swerdlow, M.A., Armstrong, A.A. et al. Five-year mortality and direct costs of care for people with diabetic foot complications are comparable to cancer.Foot Ankle Res 13, 16. 24 March 2020.