Improved diabetic care curbs amputations, but need for pharmacy care will only grow

Diabetes management works.

A new study from the University of Iowa confirms what researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last year: that the number and severity of lower-limb amputations among American diabetics is down “dramatically” in recent years. The latest findings, reported by Drug Store News Monday, show a nearly 29% overall drop in lower-limb amputations among Medicare patients with diabetes between 2000 and 2010. And there was a “striking” decrease in the severity of such amputations, as well, according to study author Phinit Phisitkul.

“Amputations at the upper and lower leg level are down 47%, while amputations at the partial-toe level increased by 24%,” he said. “What this means for patients is increased mobility, independence and survival rates.”

The new research by the University of Iowa follows an earlier study from the CDC, which reported last year that “the rate of leg and foot amputations among U.S. adults aged 40 and older with diagnosed diabetes declined by 65 percent between 1996 and 2008.”

Both studies credit advances in foot care and other treatments for much of the decline. But they also credit the kind of disease management, monitoring, patient counseling and education that pharmacists increasingly provide in the retail setting through a slew of diabetes care programs. “Improvements in blood-sugar control, foot care and diabetes management, along with declines in cardiovascular disease, are likely to have contributed to the decline in leg and foot amputations among people with diagnosed diabetes,” CDC noted in its report.

The reduction in amputations is, of course, welcome news. But thanks to many Americans’ sedentary lifestyles and poor dietary choices, Type 2 diabetes continues to stalk an increasing number of victims in the U.S. According to the American Diabetes Association, nearly 26 million Americans already have the condition, and that number will grow to 44 million by 2034.

That means pharmacy-based diabetes management programs will continue to grow, as well. Are you prepared?


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