CHICAGO – The overall amputation rate in northern Illinois is declining due to improved care for diabetes and peripheral vascular disease, new research shows. But not everyone is reaping the benefits.
A new study from Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine has found people in African American communities on Chicago’s South and West Side have a five times higher rate of lower limb amputations than people in the predominantly white suburbs and exurbs.
“Amputations are the canary in the coal mine for quality of care," said Joe Feinglass, lead author and research professor of medicine at the Feinberg School. “Many amputations are preventable. This means the primary care for minority people may not be very good. "
The high amputation rate is linked to lack of access to primary care and specialty care for diabetic patients and patients with vascular disease. In addition, patients without diabetes may not get a screening for peripheral arterial disease, an inexpensive test to indicate risk factors for circulation problems.
To address these problems, Feinglass said communities need diabetes management programs with nurses to help people control their blood sugar.
"Those are the kinds of programs we know would pay off in the inner city. When blood sugar is lower, there is a lower amputation rate," Feinglass said. Vascular surgeons and podiatrists are also needed in these areas.
"An amputation is a horrible thing to have anybody go through," Feinglass said. "We have to do better at preventing these." ###
Contact: Marla Paul Marla-Paul@northwestern.edu 312-503-8928 Northwestern University