Diabetes & Pad: Understanding the Connection
People living with diabetes have an increased risk of developing Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) – a serious condition which reduces blood flow to the lower extremities, often causing pain, weakness, or numbness in the legs. If not detected early and treated properly, PAD can lead to lower limb amputation, cardiovascular disease, or even death. Even though the consequences of PAD can be extreme, the test to diagnose PAD is as simple as taking a blood pressure.
For people with diabetes, routine medical screenings are a way of life. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends additional medical screenings, beyond blood glucose testing, for people with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. Simple point-of-care vascular exams can aid in diagnosis in just a few minutes. These simple tests, which can be performed by either a primary care or specialty physician, can detect if a patient has PAD. However, there are still many hospitals, clinics, and physicians offices throughout the U.S. that lack proper testing equipment.
The key to detecting and preventing severe complications from PAD in people with diabetes is early and accurate testing. The ADA notes that most amputations that affect diabetic patients are preventable with specialized care and routine doctor visits. The knowledge that a simple exam can be life saving, magnifies the importance of having reliable equipment on hand in primary care and specialist offices to test for PAD in patients that may be high risk.
From a cost perspective, it is significantly more expensive for a doctor to amputate a patient’s leg or foot than to purchase the equipment necessary to perform an in-office exam. According to The Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association, a foot or leg amputation can cost $30,000-60,000 in hospital fees, plus $40,000-60,000 in follow-up care over a period of three years following the initial surgery. For a patient, the burden is more than just financial, as additional services are often required to support the patient’s mental health and mobility challenges. Alleviating these burdens with a simple vascular exam should be an easy decision.