• Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

Does Your Heart Disease Risk Increase with Diabetic Foot Ulcers? Insights from a New CMC Vellore Study

Diabetes is a pervasive condition that affects millions worldwide, leading to various complications, one of the most serious being diabetic foot ulcers (DFUs). Recent research from Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore, underscores the significant risk that DFUs pose not only to limb health but also to cardiovascular health. The study highlights the crucial role of customized footwear in mitigating these risks.

The Study: An Overview

The study tracked 200 diabetes patients with foot ulcers who were treated at the Integrated Diabetes Foot Clinic at CMC Vellore between 2011 and 2018. Published in the journal *Diabetic and Metabolic Syndrome*, the research aimed to understand the long-term outcomes of patients with DFUs and the effectiveness of preventative measures such as customized footwear.

Key Findings

1. Increased Mortality and Cardiovascular Risk:

– The study revealed that DFUs are a strong indicator of heart health issues. Patients with DFUs showed a higher prevalence of major cardiovascular and cerebrovascular events compared to those without such complications.

– Approximately 30% of patients with DFUs died within ten years of the ulcer’s onset, primarily due to cardiovascular disease or sepsis.

 Role of Customized Footwear:

– Customized footwear was found to be critical in preventing severe health complications. Proper footwear can enhance blood circulation, reduce the risk of further ulcers, and prevent the need for amputations.

– The median time for complete healing of DFUs was three months, though some cases took up to three years, emphasizing the need for sustained care and appropriate footwear.

High Risk of Amputation and Re-Amputation:

– DFUs significantly increase the risk of amputation. While the risk of amputation among diabetics without a foot ulcer is up to 0.2%, this risk skyrockets post-foot ulcer, accounting for 40-60% of all amputations worldwide.
– Patients who underwent an amputation had a higher risk of subsequent amputations and a higher mortality rate compared to those who did not.

Why Customized Footwear is Essential:

Diabetes leads to the hardening and narrowing of blood vessels, which reduces blood flow to the extremities. This condition slows down the healing process of wounds, increasing the risk of infection and the development of ulcers. Customized footwear is designed to alleviate pressure points, enhance comfort, and improve overall foot health.

Dr. Nihal Thomas, Senior Professor at CMC Vellore and co-author of the study, emphasizes, “The right footwear is crucial for those with diabetes. There’s a higher prevalence of major cardiovascular events in diabetic patients with foot ulcers, making proper footwear indispensable.”

Proactive Measures for Diabetes Management:

To mitigate the risks associated with DFUs, proactive measures are essential:

– Early Diagnosis and Treatment: Regular foot examinations and early diagnosis of potential ulcers can prevent severe complications.

– Customized Footwear: Investing in specially designed shoes that cater to the needs of diabetic feet can significantly reduce the risk of ulcers and subsequent health issues.

– Education and Follow-Up Care: Continuous education on foot care, coupled with regular followups, ensures that patients remain vigilant about their foot health.

Prof. Felix Jebasingh, the lead author of the study, highlights, “Prophylactic steps to induce good foot care, use of appropriate footwear, and avoiding barefoot walking are critical. These measures can significantly improve the quality of life for diabetic patients and reduce mortality rates.”

The CMC Vellore study sheds light on the critical link between diabetic foot ulcers and heart disease risk. It underscores the importance of customized footwear and proactive foot care in managing diabetes effectively. By adopting these measures, patients can prevent serious complications, enhance their overall health, and improve their longevity. The study serves as a vital reminder of the interconnectedness of various health aspects and the need for comprehensive care strategies for diabetes patients.

Photo Credit: Pixabay 

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