Diabetic Foot Pain, Ulcers Linked With Early Death, Study Finds
Traditionally, heart health has been a major predictor of mortality rates in patients with diabetes. But a recent study suggests diabetes-related foot diseases may provide a more accurate measurement for many patients. Presented at a recent meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD), the study found patients with severe foot pathology, including diabetic foot pain and diabetic ulcers, were four times more likely to die during the study’s five-year period compared to those with cardiovascular risk factors, suggesting foot pathology plays a far more critical role in survival rates than previously thought.
Foot Ulcers and Mortality
The study evaluated 244 patients with diabetes, including 12% with type 1 disease. During the five-year study period, the authors looked at an array of cardiovascular risk factors, including hypertension, cholesterol and triglyceride levels, smoking, proteinuria and fibrinogen, as well as coronary artery and cerebrovascular disease, peripheral artery disease and duration of diabetes.
Following a multivariate analysis, they found severe foot pathology was the only factor that remained associated with an increased risk of death once other factors including patient age had been taken into account.
Risk Higher for Younger Patients
At the end of the study, 22% of patients had died, and of those, nearly three-quarters had severe foot pathology including ulcers and diabetic foot pain, they found. And while the study included patients ranging in age from 36 to 83 years, the study determined the mortality risk was even more pronounced in younger patients, with patients aged 55 years and younger experiencing a median reduced lifespan of 14 years.
The study’s authors say the results underscore the need for more vigilance in the diagnosis, treatment and long-term management of diabetic foot pain, neuropathy and ulcers, and note that while the results are certainly concerning, they serve as a “wake-up call” for both doctors and patients concerning the vital importance of routine foot care by an experienced podiatrist, accompanied by increased patient education to enhance at-home surveillance so symptoms can be reported and diagnosed as early as possible.
Preventing Diabetic Foot Ulcers
Located in Los Angeles, the Foot & Ankle Clinic is a leading provider of diabetic foot care, with a focus on the diagnosis and management of diabetic foot pain and neuropathy. As a top clinical researcher, Dr. Felix Sigal helps patients from Southern California and around the world gain access to the most innovative treatments and state-of-the-art approaches to care, helping patients avoid and successfully treat diabetic foot ulcers and their complications. To learn more about the Foot & Ankle Clinic and currently available treatments and clinical trials for diabetic foot pain, or to schedule a consultation and evaluation, use our online form or call the office at 213-365-0793 today.