It is well known that people with diabetes are at greater risk of diabetes-related amputation, but a new study suggests that the risk of losing a limb is highest for white diabetic men living in poorer areas.
After analysing data from 1.8 million diabetes patients in the National Diabetes Audit, a team of UK researchers found that being male, living in poorer areas, and being white were each linked with a higher risk of lower limb amputation.
Diabetes is one the leading causes of lower limb amputation . Many of these unnecessary amputations are the result of foot problems not being treated quickly enough, which is why good foot care is such an important part of diabetes management.
However the latest findings, presented today at the Diabetes UK Professional Conference, indicate that this message is particularly important for white men with diabetes who live in poorer areas.
According to the researchers, this group should have their feet checked at least once a year; be informed of their risk of foot problems; and understand the importance of visiting their GP as soon as they notice any kind of foot problem .
Lead author of the study Naomi Holma, from the Yorkshire and Humber Public Health Observatory, said: “While we do not fully understand why white men living in poorer areas have a higher risk of diabetes-related amputation, our findings suggest that efforts to reduce amputations should focus particularly on this group.
“Certainly, the fact that they are more likely to have an amputation strongly suggests that even more amputations in this group could be prevented than in the rest of the population.”
Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said: “This study did not look at the reasons for the high amputation rate in white men living in poorer areas, but previous research has shown that this group may be less engaged with the healthcare system and take longer to seek medical attention if they have problems.
“It is a tragedy that every week in the UK, people with diabetes are having feet and legs amputated simply because they were reluctant to make a fuss and we need to bring this tragedy to an end.
“The stark fact is that unless people with diabetes manage their condition and take notice of their feet, they are at increased risk of becoming one of the thousands of people a year with the condition who have amputations that could have been avoided.”

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