Diabetes UK has launched its latest Putting Feet First campaign focused on helping people with diabetes look after their feet and highlight that unhealed ulcers are a leading cause of amputations.
More than a third of people in the UK are not aware that foot ulcers are a serious complication of diabetes, despite being a leading cause of diabetes-related amputations, a new survey commissioned by Diabetes UK has revealed.
The survey of 2,055 adults, conducted for Diabetes UK by YouGov, found that while 79 per cent of people know that an amputation is a major complication of diabetes, 36 per cent did not know that people with diabetes are susceptible to foot ulcers, which when unhealed are responsible for as many as four-in-five diabetes-related amputations.
These findings are revealed as Diabetes UK launches its latest Putting Feet First campaign, through which the charity is calling for urgent improvements to community diabetes foot services.
Foot problems, such as infections or ulcers, can deteriorate quickly and with devastating consequences, so Diabetes UK wants to see people with diabetes receiving routine access to podiatrists and foot protection teams, who can assess problems early and treat them.
An amputation can be devastating to a person’s quality of life, and can even be life threatening – with up to 80 per cent of people with diabetes dying within five years following surgery.
Jillian Patchett, Diabetes UK Northern Ireland National Director, said: “Diabetes-related amputations devastate lives. While it’s positive that the majority of people are aware that amputation is a complication of diabetes, it’s very worrying that so many don’t know the dangers posed by foot ulcers.
“That’s why it’s essential that people living with diabetes know how to look after their feet, and that they check them daily. It’s also crucial that they know to seek urgent medical attention if they notice any problems with their feet; a matter of hours can make the difference between losing and keeping a limb.
“With the right support, four out of five amputations are preventable.”
To mark the launch of Putting Feet First, Diabetes UK is showing people with diabetes how to check their feet at home, and urging them to do it daily, to identify problems early. A new video (see below), featuring Diabetes UK’s Head of Care, Dan Howarth, gives four simple, key steps to performing a daily foot health check:
- Take off your shoes and socks
- Check your foot temperature
- Visually inspect your feet for calluses, and changes in shape or colour
- Check in-between your toes, and your toenails
It is particularly important that if anyone with diabetes has a foot infection or an ulcer they get urgent medical attention.