World Diabetes Day – Diabetes, Amputation and Prevention

A selection of articles on Diabetes, amputation and its possible prevention from the days news stories.

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A QUARTER of diabetes sufferers are at risk of having their ­feet amputated because they have not had vital check-ups in the past year.

A poll to highlight World Diabetes Day today also found 22% of people with the condition had not had an annual blood or urine test to check kidney function.

And a third had never been offered advice on managing their illness. Around 3.7 million people have the condition in the UK.

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Diabetics are up to 15 times more likely to have a major amputation due to nerve and circulatory ­problems, and four times more likely to have a heart attack.

Barbara Young, of Diabetes UK, warned: “The rising tide of diabetes-related complications threatens to bankrupt the NHS.”

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Arthritis and brittle bones cause many seniors to lose mobility. More than one in five people, age 60 and older, are living with diabetes. These individuals have another potential challenge to their independence: diabetic foot ulcers that can lead to amputations.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 60 percent of lower-limb amputations, not caused by trauma, occur in people with diabetes. In 2004, nearly 71,000 such amputations changed people’s lives forever.

“Amputation rates can be reduced by up to 85 percent by implementing a comprehensive foot care program that encourages preventative behavior and good healthcare habits,” said Scott Covington, M.D., F.A.C.S., C.H.W.S., corporate medical director for National Healing Corporation, which manages outpatient wound care centers for hospitals across the nation.

    The Mercy Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine Center, a National Healing managed wound center, offers these preventative tips:

  • Leg and foot blood vessels can narrow and harden due to diabetes. Help fight poor circulation by keeping blood pressure and cholesterol under control. Something as simple as not crossing your legs can also improve blood flow.
  • Risk factors are highest for those with longer duration of the disease who use insulin and who smoke. Stop smoking and control glucose levels – an A1c blood test can give you on overview of your average glucose levels and, typically, every percentage point drop in test results can reduce the risk of microvascular complications by 40 percent.
  • Ask your healthcare provider for a thorough foot examination and to add it to your check-up routine for future visits.
  • Diabetes can cause reduced sensation in the lower limbs making it hard to know if you have an injury. Check your feet daily and look between your toes for blisters, cuts and scratches. Use an unbreakable mirror for hard to see areas or ask someone to help you.
  • Changes that diabetes can cause in the skin of your feet include dryness and calluses which occur more often and build up faster. Do not use chemical agents to remove calluses and corns since they can further damage your skin. See a healthcare professional to remove loose pieces of skin off your feet.
  • Wear clean seamless socks and proper footwear. Medicare and many health care providers will reimburse a certain amount of money for shoes and custom inserts prescribed by a doctor.
  • Seek medical treatment if a leg or foot wound has not healed in 30 days or shows signs of infection such as increased pain, redness or swelling, foul wound odor or a change in color or amount of drainage from the wound.

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A special healing sock could save thousands of diabetes patients from the trauma of amputation.
Just by wearing the garment, sufferers speed up the repair of damaged skin and prevent ulcers, a major cause of foot loss.
New to the UK, Difoprev uses a special ingredient – a moisture-boosting protein extracted from bacteria discovered only in Antarctic mud. Known for its hydrating properties, this protein is impregnated into the fabric of the sock, then slowly released directly into the tissue of the feet.

Healing: The diabetic sock that lowers the risk of foot amputation

It is predicted that Difoprev could cut the risk of foot amputation by as much as 60 per cent. At least 5,000 people with diabetes in this country undergo such drastic and debilitating surgery every year, according to Diabetes UK, and chronic ulcers are largely to blame.
These are triggered by high blood sugar levels which damage nerve endings over time, reducing the sensation in limbs. Long-term diabetes sufferers don’t notice when they cut their feet or develop a blister so they don’t get treated and this leads to ulcers.
Another symptom of diabetes is poor circulation, triggered by a build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries. Skin with a reduced blood supply does not heal well, again leading to ulcers which are prone to infection because bacteria feed on the abundance of glucose in the body. Until now, creams and gels have been the first-line treatment to keep skin hydrated.
Difoprev works by ensuring the feet are kept hydrated for 12 hours a day. The sock lasts for three days but comes with a supply of capsules containing its special moisture-boosting ingredients. These are mixed with water and  soaked into the sock which is then left to dry and then worn again.
Difoprev works by ensuring the feet are kept hydrated for 12 hours a day. The sock lasts for three days but comes with a supply of capsules containing its special moisture-boosting ingredients.
Costing around £1.50, Difoprev is available from pharmacists and is awaiting approval for use on the NHS. However, studies have shown that the 33-day treatment is effective, if repeated up to five times a year, in reducing cracks in skin caused by dryness, boosting the renewal of skin cells and increasing the formation of collagen and elastin which are necessary for healthy skin.
Michael Paterson, 52, is one of the first people in the UK to use the treatment. The historian from Brentford, West London, was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at the age of 38 and takes tablets to maintain his blood sugar levels.
He used Difoprev for four weeks and says it’s made life a lot easier. ‘The key thing with diabetes is routine and I’m not good at that,’ he says. ‘You have to remember to put cream on your feet.

‘My skin is much softer and it’s so much more convenient to use.’ www.diabetic-footcare.org

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