Foot, leg amputations increasing among diabetics in US

After years of decline, amputations are increasing among diabetic patients in the U.S., Reuters reported Dec. 12.

Because high blood sugar levels can inhibit circulation, diabetics are already at an increased risk for poor blood flow, Reuters reported. So if they’re not controlling their blood sugar well, there’s a chance they’ll experience nerve damage and impaired circulation in their feet and legs.

Between 2000 and 2009, nontraumatic lower extremity amputations in diabetics fell by 43 percent, from 5.4 cases to 3.1 cases per 1,000 adults with diabetes. But between 2009 and 2015, the number jumped again by 50 percent, to 4.6 cases per 1,000 adults.

The increase was most dramatic in adults aged 18 to 64, Edward Gregg, of the CDC, told Reuters. Gregg and colleagues’ work was published in Diabetes Care.

“We already knew that younger adults were not experiencing the same improvements in amputations over time as older adults,” Gregg said. “However, this is the first time we have observed an increase in amputations.”

Though many diabetics aren’t aware anything is wrong until the situation is dire and amputation is the only option, patients can lower their risk by keeping their blood sugar in check, abstaining from tobacco and getting regular foot exams.

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