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The Importance of Addressing Diabetes

People rarely think of their health until it is lost or threatened.

If you have diabetes or are a pre-diabetic you have a health management issue. Many people fail to deal with their condition early enough because this is a quiet disease rarely causing problems in the beginning stage. However, with long-standing uncontrolled high blood glucose levels, the damage is done leading to vision complications, heart attacks, strokes, and foot ulcers that often lead to leg amputation.
 
Some patients may not understand that many complications of diabetes stem from one primary issue: the havoc that high blood sugar, also called hyperglycemia, causes for the body’s blood vessels. Blood brings oxygen to every living cell in the body through the vascular system, and when blood vessels aren’t working properly the body will suffer.
 
Diabetes is a risk factor for vascular disease, which causes damage to the arteries of the retina, kidneys, heart, brain, and to the arteries of the legs and feet. Those with diabetes should have routine preventative care: primary care visits, aggressive glucose control, evaluation for complications of vascular disease, and the appointments with various specialists such as ophthalmologists, nephrologists, vascular surgeons and podiatric specialists.

Diabetes and Foot Wounds

Diabetes + Poor Circulation Can Result In…

Diabetes can sometimes lead to blood circulation issues and nerve damage in the foot. Patients can unknowingly develop wounds on their feet due to lack of sensation or feeling due to the nerve damage inflicted by the diabetes.
 
Again, diabetes can cause issues with blood circulation as well. The lack of circulation can result in the wounds or ulcers not healing, and thus results in a high risk for amputation. The good news is that proper foot care and diabetes management can lead to fewer cases of this happening. In fact in the last 20 years, better diabetes care has led to a 50 percent drop in amputations in the lower limbs!
 
A 2012 study found that foot ulcers occur in 4-10 percent of people with diabetes. Most of those cases have good outcomes:
  • 60-80 percent of foot ulcers will heal
  • 10-15 percent will remain active
  • 5-24 percent will eventually lead to limb amputation within 6-18 months of the initial evaluation
 
In order to prevent amputations, proper foot care is needed, especially in diabetic patients. Here are a few tips to help take good care of your feet:
  • Examine feet regularly for cuts, bruises, blisters, and scrapes
  • Wash feet daily
  • Wear clean, dry socks
  • Wiggle toes frequently to stimulate blood flow
  • Trim toenails carefully.
  • Buy shoes that fit properly.
  • Schedule regular foot examinations
  • Don’t walk barefoot
 
If you are concerned of any open wounds or sores on your feet, scheduling an appointment with your primary care provider or podiatrist is recommended.