Diabetes is a silent killer and it is also the main cause of amputations of non-traumatic lower limb.
Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), carried a study to know the pattern in which diabetes affects people in low-income neighborhoods than their wealthy counterparts in the United States.
The UCLA researchers have found that poor diabetics in California were up to 10 times more prone to lose their lower limb than those in richer ZIP Codes due to a diabetes-related infection.
The researchers also noted that the patients of amputation were most likely to be male whose age is older than 65 and belong to minorities, non-English speaking background.
Lead author Carl Stevens said, “Neighborhoods where highest rates were seen tend to be where first-generation immigrants lived as their first neighborhood.”
Stevens, a clinical professor of medicine, works at the David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California, Los Angeles.
“Where the poor people are is where the amputations are,” Stevens said.
But the researchers believe the amputations could be avoided if the diabetes are diagnosed earlier and treated on time.
Health experts say the diabetics who don’t know how to properly manage their illness end up losing their immunity against bacterial infections. They further explain due to numbed nerves in the limb amid lower blood circulation, a blister or cut may develop on the limb, which may turn into a life-threatening infection. Ann Albright, director for the diabetes division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said, amputations are the only option in such a scenario.
Inadequate access to primary health care and lack of basic education facilities are the two major reasons behind the high amputation rates in the poor neighborhoods, according to the scientists.
Every diabetic needs a full-time guidance from a primary care physician, a nutritionist and pharmacist so as to maintain their sugar levels. In dearth of this basic facility, the chances of diabetics getting severe becomes quite obvious.
The researchers collected data from Census records and statistics of hospital discharge from 2009. The researchers also referred to the data collected by the California Health Interview Survey of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. The survey was conducted to study the estimates of the prevalence of diabetes in low-income regions.
Stevens also underlined that the study was carried before the launch of the Affordable Care Act in California, hence, difference in the results are quite evident today.
“The impact of the Affordable Care Act will be positive and will be substantial but will be limited by the number of primary care physicians in urban areas,” Stevens said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, over 29 million people in the United States suffered with diabetes this year. The report further said that about one-fourth of diabetics were unknown about their disease status.
The findings of the study were published in the August issue of journal Health Affairs.