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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 March 2006, 12:42 GMT 13:42 UK
Diabetes limb loss 'unnecessary'
Diabetes sugar monitor
People with diabetes need to monitor blood sugar levels
People with diabetes are having to have unnecessary lower limb amputations, a study has suggested.

Diabetes can lead to amputation because of damage to the nerves and blood vessels that serve the limbs.

People with diabetes are 15 times more at risk of lower limb amputation than people without the condition.

A study by Wolverhampton-based researchers showed too few were getting the right foot care, leading to the unnecessary limb loss.

Diabetes is the UK's second most common cause of lower limb amputation.

Data published by Diabetes UK shows up to 70% of people die within five years of having an amputation.

Lack of education

Research presented at the Diabetes UK Annual Professional Conference in Birmingham looked at the care of people with diabetes prior to amputation.

It is shocking that some people with diabetes are getting sub-standard specialist foot care
Douglas Smallwood, Diabetes UK

A survey of 30 people with diabetes, aged between 60 and 80, who had had amputations, found 90% had been considered high risk in the period leading up to the procedure.

A history of ulcers, nerve damage, circulation problems and foot deformities can all put people at high risk of amputation.

But more than a quarter of those thought to be at high risk of amputation are not being offered any kind of specialist care, the Wolverhampton study suggested.

And two in five are not being educated on how to prevent and treat infections which can lead to amputation.

Over a third did not have any kind of diabetes review to assess how they managed their condition and to ensure they did not develop any other complications prior to amputation becoming a risk.

Foot checks

Dr Baldev Singh, who carried out the research, said, "This research clearly shows that care for high-risk patients is inadequate.

"Mandatory foot care plans should be put in place to ensure that all people get the right care and education."

Douglas Smallwood, chief executive at Diabetes UK said: "It is shocking that some people with diabetes are getting sub-standard specialist foot care, or even none at all, if they are at high risk of amputation.

"We know that the rate of amputation may be reduced by 40% or more through effective care.

"All people with diabetes should receive at least a yearly foot check.

"Those who have problems need to be provided with a foot care plan which incorporates specialist care and education on what to look out for and how to avoid infections."



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