Poorly controlled diabetes can lead to amputations of toes, feet or legs, though it isn’t inevitable. Your race and where you live might play a big part in whether amputation is your fate if you are diagnosed with the blood sugar disorder, new research suggests. The study found that Black people are less likely to have a minor amputation, but more likely to have a major amputation than white people.
“If you go to the experts that are there to help you live a [healthy] lifestyle with diabetes, this does not have to happen to you,” Dr. David Alper, a member of the American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) Northeast Leadership Board and trustee of the American Podiatric Medical Association says.
Researchers recently reported in the ADA journal Diabetes Care that minor lower extremity amputations rose among American adults with diabetes between 2009 and 2017, while major amputations held steady.
Major amputations rose for whites, Midwesterners and those in rural areas, the study found.
The increase in minor amputations was most pronounced among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, as well as those who were Native American, rural residents and those living in the West.
Major amputations are those above the foot, or below or above the knee. Amputations of the foot or toe are considered minor. Poor diabetes control can lead to serious health issues, including neuropathy, which is reduced feeling in the extremities, and potentially to amputation.
“The good news is the major-to-minor amputation ratio is dropping, which means there are fewer major amputations being conducted and more minor amputations,” study author Marvellous Akinlotan, a research assistant professor at Texas A&M University College of Nursing in Bryan, Texas says. “Even though an amputation of any kind can be devastating, that ratio is dropping and that shows that diabetes management efforts are paying off.”
That includes “the comprehensive foot examinations that are now part of the diabetes management programs” and earlier detection of infections Akinlotan shares.
Patients in the South were more likely to have a major amputation than those living in