Diabetic foot care is key to amputation prevention, especially among African Americans

Published: Dec. 15, 2022 at 6:26 PM CST
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CANTON, Miss. (WLBT) - According to medical professionals, diabetes sufferers risk higher rates of amputation and traumatic surgeries, which could be avoided in many cases.

Thursday, those diagnosed with the illness learned how simple life changes and foot care can extend their lives and prevent limb loss.

“I want all of you to treat your feet like you do your hands,” said Dr. Gerard Guerin.

The podiatrist with the Foot & Wound Institute of the South urged the monthly Diabetes Class meeting in the Canton Library to focus on their feet to avoid ulcers and darkening or black skin which means a lack of circulation. These are conditions that can lead to limb loss.

“It just makes me feel like if I don’t take care of myself that’s what’s gonna happen to me,” said Ida Davis.

The 61-year-old from Sharon was diagnosed with diabetes five years ago.

“This diabetes is serious and looking at the images and I have seen family members with the foot images,” said Davis. “And that’s what makes me really know inside that I need to take care of myself because if I don’t take care of myself there’s nobody gonna do it.”

According to the American Diabetes Association, over 154,000 amputations occur each year in the U.S. The rate is up to four times higher for African Americans.

Vivian Blackmon of Canton is also diabetic and attends the monthly classes.

“My mama had what they called charcoal feet,” said Blackmon. “She could not feel when she walked and she kept on walking on it, and she had crushed all the bones in her feet. So they had to amputate it.”

The 40-year foot specialist said diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, smoking, high blood pressure, and Peripheral Vascular Disease are all contributing factors to limb loss.

“Unfortunately we’re finding out that most of them had not had that simple test called an ABI,” said Guerin. “And we’re finding out that every three minutes you’re finding a black person who’s getting amputated in the United States.”

Physicians say foot care is key to amputation prevention.

“You have family members that didn’t know. So that’s one of the reasons come to get educated on what to do,” added Blackmon.

Dr. Geurin recommends diabetics take the quick and simple ABI or Ankle Brachial Index, a test that checks for narrowed arteries, which impacts blood flow.

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