American Diabetes Association launches initiative to prevent foot amputations

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Partners in the Amputation Prevention Alliance include Podimetrics and Abbott

There are over 37 million people in the U.S. who already have diabetes, more than 11% of the popular, while another 96 million have prediabetes, meaning very close to 50% of the entire US population either has one of these conditions. 

One of the most common results of having the disease is foot amputation; in fact, 25% of the hospital admissions among diabetics are for the foot lesions and of those presenting with diabetic foot, 40% require amputations. Yet, when surveyed, 65 percent said they did not believe they were not at risk for amputation and just 1 in 4 said they understood the signs and symptoms of conditions that can lead to an amputation.

It’s the prevalance of the problem, and the lack of education, that led the American Diabetes Association to announce a new initiative called the Amputation Prevention Alliance, designed to address the challenge of preventable amputation.

The initiative is being launched with partners that include Abbott, developer of medical devices, including glucose monitors; Cardiovascular Systems, developer of solutions for treating peripheral and coronary artery disease; CLIschemia Global Society, a company whose mission is to improve quality of life by preventing amputations and death due to Critical Limb Ischemia; and Podimetrics, a care management company that is looking to eradicate diabetic foot ulcers. 

“The Amputation Prevention Alliance is the dedicated initiative that we need to reduce the number of diabetic amputations and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans who have been invisible for far too long,” Podimetrics CEO and co-founder Dr. Jon Bloom told VatorNews.

“Our collaboration rose out of our shared desire to finally put an end to unnecessary amputations for those living with advanced diabetes.”

Diabetic amputations are commonly the result of diabetic foot ulcers, he explained. As diabetes advances, nerve damage called diabetic neuropathy can occur and damaged tissue struggles to heal. 

“Peripheral neuropathy is the most common form of diabetic neuropathy, where the feet and legs are affected first. Later, the hands and arms can also be affected. Patients at risk for diabetic foot ulcers or complications often might not even feel a sore forming on their foot. All the while, the sore is getting worse and not healing well due to increased blood sugar levels. Eventually, these sores can advance and require diabetic amputation,” he said.

The Amputation Prevention Alliance will focus on addressing communities that face disproportionately high rates of amputations and amputated-related mortality, including  people of color. Black Americans are up to four times more likely to have an amputation than non-Hispanic white Americans, while LatinX communities are 50 percent more likely to have an amputation. Indigenous communities face amputations rates that are two times higher than non-Hispanic white Americans.

Some of the best ways to help prevent DFUs, and the resulting amputations, include patient education and clinician education about the signs and symptoms, as well as regular patient check-ups, including appointments with a podiatrist that are focused primarily on foot health, said Bloom.

On top of that, there are also regulatory changes that need to take place, including screening coverage for those most likely to be at risk of Peripheral Artery Disease, as well as more adoption of technology from health plan and providers.

All of these issues will be among the goals of the Amputation Prevention Alliance.

“We will be working with a variety of groups, including clinicians and patients. To start, priority one is convening a forum focused on creating a clinical advisory group. This group will help shape recommendations specific to education for healthcare professionals, and inform patient education best practices. More details will be forthcoming,” Bloom explained. 

“As we kick-off more concerted activations, the Alliance will be focused on finalizing specific, data-driven goals that map to our overarching objective. Still, Our focus will remain on addressing communities facing disproportionately high rates of amputations and amputated-related mortality by advancing needed policy changes; driving clinician awareness of opportunities to prevent amputations; and empowering patients to advocate for their best care.”

(Image source: diabetes.org)

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