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CDC study reports drop in lower-limb amputations among diabetes patients


ATLANTA — Leg and foot amputations among patients diagnosed with diabetes saw a dramatic decline between 1996 and 2008, thanks to improvements in blood-sugar control, foot care and diabetes management, along with declines in cardiovascular disease, according to a new study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study — “Declining Rates of Hospitalization for Nontraumatic Lower-Extremity Amputation in the Diabetic Population Aged 40 years or Older: U.S., 1988-2008” — which is published in the current online issue of Diabetes Care, found that the rate of leg and foot amputations declined by 65% between 1996 and 2008 among U.S. adults ages 40 years and older.

Comparing gender and race demographics, the researchers also discovered that among diabetes patients in 2008, men had higher age-adjusted rates of leg and foot amputations than women (6 per 1,000 versus 1.9 per 1,000), and African-Americans had higher rates than whites (4.9 per 1,000 versus 2.9 per 1,000). What's more, adults ages 75 years and older recorded the highest rate — 6.2 per 1,000 — compared with other age groups.

The researchers analyzed data from the National Hospital Discharge Survey on nontraumatic lower-limb amputations and from the National Health Interview Survey on the prevalence of diagnosed diabetes from 1988 to 2008. Researchers found that the decrease in lower-limb amputation rates was greater among people with diagnosed diabetes, compared with those without diabetes. However, the rate in 2008 was still about eight times higher among people with diagnosed diabetes, compared with those without it.

“The significant drop in rates of nontraumatic lower-limb amputations among U.S. adults with diagnosed diabetes is certainly encouraging, but more work is needed to reduce the disparities among certain populations,” said Nilka Ríos Burrows, an epidemiologist with CDC′s Division of Diabetes Translation and co-author of the study. “We must continue to increase awareness of the devastating health complications of diabetes. Diabetes is the leading cause of lower-limb amputations in the United States.”

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