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CDC Reports: Number of Diabetes Amputations Is Falling

Posted on Mar 15, 2012

Diabetes patients can take heart from the latest government research on diabetes-related amputations. The latest Centers for Disease Control (CDC) research shows an impressive drop in the number of limbs lost by diabetic Americans.

This most recent report, released in January 2012, shows a more than 50% drop since the mid-1990s. The CDC reports that, among older diabetics, the rate has fallen from 11 to about four amputations for every 1000 people. Declines were also reported in blindness and kidney failure.

This is indeed good news in a nation with a growing diabetic population, in which obesity-related Type 2 diabetes cases are growing most quickly. 

Diabetes and its related blood sugar build-up can cause many sufferers poor circulation and even nerve damage in the legs. As a result, sores and infections become difficult to heal and can lead to such serious complications that amputation becomes the only option.

CDC researchers looked at hospital discharge records for one decade, from 1998 to 2008. They identified diabetic patients who were 40 years of age or older who had undergone amputation of a foot, toe or leg. What they found was startling: Even though the number of diabetic patients tripled during that decade, the number of amputations fell beginning at the end of 1996. 

While there is no fully documented study of the reasons for this decline, experts offer the following possibilities:

  • Patients were monitored more closely and educated more fully during that decade.
  • Also, Medicare began picking up the costs of blood sugar monitoring, protective shoes and other medical support for older diabetics.
  • More diabetics got regular foot exams.
  • More diabetics are being diagnosed earlier.

The Massachusetts firm of Keefe Disability Law applauds the increase in American health reported by the CDC.

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John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney of Keefe Disability Law