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Diabetic Foot Disease a Global Scourge

Timely footcare could prevent foot ulcers and costly, traumatic amputations

MONDAY, Nov. 14 (HealthDay News) -- The world is facing an epidemic of diabetic foot disease, much of it preventable, according to a report in the Nov. 12 issue of The Lancet, which is largely devoted to diabetic foot disease to coincide with World Diabetes Day on Nov. 14.

In a review article, Andrew J.M. Boulton, M.D., of the Manchester Royal Infirmary, U.K., and colleagues report that diabetic foot ulcers and amputations cost an estimated $10.9 billion in 2001 in the United States alone. But preventive footcare could sharply reduce the cost and trauma of amputations, the authors write.

"The lifetime risk of a person with diabetes developing a foot ulcer could be as high as 25%, and it is believed that every 30 seconds a lower limb is lost somewhere in the world as a consequence of diabetes," Boulton writes. Meanwhile, because they are often of neuropathic origin, foot ulcers are "eminently preventable in developing countries," which are expected to see the greatest rise in type 2 diabetes in the next 20 years.

In the same issue, Vilma Urbancic-Rovan of the University Medical Center, Ljubljana, Slovenia, writes that many patients should seek professional advice as soon as possible to minimize the risk of amputation, and that doctors should always examine diabetics' feet.

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