Diabetes can lead to amputation

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Apr. 01, 2019

Diabetes can cause several ill health effects, including heart disease, stroke, kidney and nerve damage. Another complication, which can be one of the most daunting, is limb amputation.

Diabetes can lead to peripheral artery disease (PAD), which causes blood vessels to narrow and reduces blood flow to the legs and feet. PAD also can cause nerve damage, known as peripheral neuropathy.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), diabetes is the leading cause of lower-limb amputations. Amputations are related to chronic wounds caused by diabetes, especially diabetic foot ulcers. The most commonly amputated limbs are toes, feet, and lower legs.

The good news is that diabetes-related, lower-limb amputations are declining, according to the CDC. A 2012 report showed the rate of amputations dropped by 65 percent from 1996 to 2008. However, more needs to be done to help diabetes patients avoid amputations, the CDC states.

Don’t smoke

Smoking is one of the biggest threats to feet for patients with diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. Smoking affects small blood vessels, which can reduce blood flow to the feet and make wounds heal slowly.

Pay attention to your feet

To avoid amputation, people with diabetes should wear proper footwear, have regular feet exams, and take extra care when trimming nails and treating cuts, scrapes, and blisters. Seek medical treatment if a wound does not heal or shows sign of infection.

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