According to a new study from Kaiser Health News, this country is facing an epidemic of diabetic foot amputations. In California alone, between 2011 and 2017, 82,000 individuals lost limbs due to diabetic complications.
Diabetics lose their limbs for a number of reasons: the disease can raise sugar levels in the blood stream, which in turn can affect circulation and cause organ damage. Diabetics also often experience reduced sensation in the extremities (neuropathy), which can threaten limbs in two ways:
People with circulatory and nerve damage may not know when they injured their limbs. And, because they have compromised blood circulation, even minor injuries can be slow to heal. Over time, and without routine medical care, these untreated, unhealed injuries become deep wounds (ulcers). Once ulcers develop, diabetics are at immediate risk of losing part of or all of the affected limb.
Many Amputations are Avoidable
While all the statistics in the study were scary, there’s one fact we, as Houston vein specialists, found particularly scary: many of these amputations would have been avoidable with routine medical care. And, it showed that people who were black or Hispanic were twice as likely to face an amputation, due in large part to inadequate access to care.
So that’s the bad news that we took away from this study, but here’s something that can make you feel more at ease: with proper preventative care, you can keep your diabetes in good control. This can help you prevent devastating complications like amputations.
So what kind of preventative vein care do we recommend for diabetics? Diabetes can damage your blood vessels (veins, arteries and/or capillaries), causing your body to deposit cholesterol within the vessels in the hopes of preventing further damage.
Unfortunately, cholesterol deposits can clog your arteries, leaving you at risk of heart-related complications. That;s where specialists like Drs. Fox and Hardee can help: using interventional radiology techniques, we can remove blockages and help restore your blood flow.
Improved blood flow will reduce your risk of ulcers, help heal existing wounds, and go a long way towards preventing limb loss. So, if you have diabetes, make sure you keep up appointments with your regular medical team, and make sure to address any circulatory problems right away. Doing so might just be the decision you make that saves your limbs!
Sources: Kaiser Health news, khn.org, diabetes.co.uk