(O’FALLON, IL) - November is American Diabetes Month and the health care experts at HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Wound Care Center, a member of the Healogics network, are working to increase awareness about diabetes – and the fact that it is the leading cause of lower-limb amputations not caused by accidents.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) an estimated 30.3 million people in the United States have diabetes, including 7.2 million who are unaware they are living with the disease. The percentage of adults with diabetes increases with age, reaching a high of 25.2% among those age 65 years or older. In addition to age, risk factors for diabetes include diet, activity level, obesity and heredity. High blood sugar levels, poor circulation, immune systems issues, nerve damage and infection may contribute to a diabetic foot ulcer. 

The US National Library of Medicine also estimates that America’s diabetic population is expected to nearly double by 2030, so it is important that communities understand the risks and know the facts associated with diabetic foot ulcers.

  • Approximately 25% of people living with diabetes will develop a foot ulcer, including the two million who are suffering from one right now.

  • As many as 40% of those with a healed diabetic foot ulcer will develop a new ulcer within a year.

  • An estimated 14 to 24% of people with foot ulcers will experience an amputation.

Additionally, according to the Amputee Coalition of America, diabetes accounts for 65,000 amputations annually. Of the patients who have undergone one amputation, 55% will require amputation on the second leg. An amputation results in decreased quality of life, increased medical costs and a significantly higher risk of death.

Dr. Bryon Gorton, Medical Director of St. Elizabeth’s Wound Care Center and member of HSHS Medical Group notes, “Early detection and intervention can help to lessen the possibility of limb loss.” Gorton recommends the following to help prevent diabetic foot ulcers:

  • Stop smoking immediately

  • Request comprehensive foot examinations each time you visit your health care provider (at least four times a year)

  • Do daily self-inspections of the feet, or have a family member perform the inspection

  • Take care of the feet including cleaning toenails and taking care of corns and calluses

  • Choose supportive, proper footwear (shoes and socks)

  • Take steps to improve circulation such as eating healthier and exercising on a regular basis

Dr. Gorton also notes, “Problem wounds can happen to anyone of any age, especially in those with diabetes, or circulatory conditions. If you or someone you know has a wound that isn’t healing after four weeks with traditional methods, encourage them to seek help. Many advanced treatment options are available.”

St. Elizabeth’s Wound Care Center offers a number of leading-edge treatments including Total Contact Casting (TCC), Negative Pressure Wound Therapy and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. These specialized therapies can aid in wound closure, new tissue growth, wound tissue regeneration and much more. For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call (618) 234-2120, ext. 32723. Patients may be seen with or without a physician's referral.

Media Contact

Kelly Barbeau

Manager, Marketing & Communications
HSHS Illinois
Office: (618) 234-2120, Ext. 41270

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