Limb amputations have increased in recent years, but the rate among people with diabetes is not significantly increasing, health experts have said.
The data published by Public Health England’s (PHE) National Cardiovascular Intelligence Network also revealed variations among who is more likely to experience an amputation.
The risk of type 2 diabetes is higher among some ethnic groups, such as the South Asian population, although major amputation rates are highest among white males.
People with either type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes are at greater risk of developing problems with their feet because high blood glucose levels can damage blood vessels, impacting how blood flows to the feet and legs. Left untreated, ulcers and foot infections can lead to limb amputations.
This is why it is so important to reduce the risk of amputations. Eating a healthy, real-food diet and getting regular exercise can help to maintain good blood glucose control, a fundamental way to lower the risk of complications.
The report revealed that above-the-ankle amputations have gone up by 8.4% in three years. As diabetes rates have also been rising, the risk of an amputation per person with diabetes has not significantly increased.
Dr Jenifer Smith, Programme Director at PHE for the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programmen, said: “It’s a tragedy that so many people are unnecessarily having to face the life-changing consequences of diabetes, such as amputations. Survival rates and quality of life for people following such major surgery can often be poor. This shouldn’t be happening when the condition is preventable.”
NHS England has been rolling out the Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme across the country, in a bid to reduce type 2 diabetes numbers.
“The NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme has been hugely successful in providing help and support to those at risk of developing the condition, which is why it’s now being doubled in size. It’s important that those providing the service need to work closely with their local public health teams who know their community, to ensure they’re reaching and meeting the needs of those at greatest risk.
“Type 2 diabetes remains the greatest health challenge in this country and many adults are in danger of developing this deadly but preventable disease.”

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