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Published on February 18th, 2019 | by Millennium Magazine Staff


Alarming: Diabetes Related Amputations In 29203

By Geneva N. Holiday MSN, RN, WCC, Columbia Area Black Nurses Association

In 2012 the zip code 29203 was ranked the zip code with the highest diabetes related amputation rate in the country per the association Organizing for Health.  As a nurse with a specialty in Certified Wound Care this statistic was alarming, and I feel urged to do something about it these facts. The first action is to improve all health disparities with awareness and education.  I will share some quick facts to consider with this health disparity. Nearly 2 million Americans across the United States are amputees.  An average of 54% of documented amputations are related to diabetes and peripheral arterial disease.  African Americans are four times more likely to have an amputation than their white Americans counterparts.  Furthermore, within five years of an amputation those same individuals, approximately half are more likely to require an amputation of a second limb if not decease from related complications.

With these sobering statistics what can we do as a community to decrease them.  There are four simple steps that individuals suffering with Diabetes and Peripheral Arterial Disease can do.  First speak with your doctor and know your numbers. Keep track of your blood sugars and your hemoglobin alc daily.  Ask your doctor what you can do to lower these numbers to better control your diabetes.  Second, skip the nail salon for your pedicures and go see the podiatrist.  Most healthcare insurance companies to include Medicare will cover diabetic foot examinations annually and routinely for diabetic patients, for nail and foot care. Many times, amputations start as a small infection, sore, or cut from improper foot care at a nail salon, etc. The third and most important step is Daily Foot Care. Every morning, evening, and especially after showering you should inspect your feet by either using a handheld mirror or ask a family member to assist with inspecting your feet for any open areas or blisters.  Keep your feet clean, moisturized, and covered which will help keep skin intact to prevent invasion of bacteria and fungus. Dry thoroughly in between your toes and do not moisten between them as this will keep moisture which allows for additional breakdown at bay from there as well. And last but now least ALWAYS wear shoes even when walking in your home and hard soled shoes are important to prevent stepping onto sharp objects, nail, or even splinters which can detrimental to a diabetic patient.  Be aware that any small wound can be life threatening to diabetic patients.

As a nurse I’m enthused to provide my expertise and knowledge to help combat amputations within the communities we live and work. I hope this information was helpful and that you take the first step in prevention of amputation; speak with your provider about how to best manage your diabetes then make an appointment for a foot examination by a licensed professional.  Thank you for taking a moment to advance your health one foot at a time from a community of nurses that cares.

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