Diabetes Mellitus

The Human Cost:

  • 2 million Canadians have Diabetes Mellitus (6% of the general population, 20% of the population over 70 years of age, and 30% of the native population)
  • 200,000 Canadians (15% of diabetic patients) will develop leg or foot ulcers in their lifetime as a consequence of their disease
  • 14 – 24 % of patients with diabetes and leg or foot ulcers will require amputation
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of non-traumatic leg amputations in Canada
  • 16% of patients die during amputation surgery
  • Of those, 50% have an amputation of the other leg within 5 years due to the chronic effects of their disease
  • The majority of diabetic patients who suffer double amputations die within 6 months of the second amputation
  • Canada spends $1.5 billion on direct costs of diabetic amputations
  • With our aging population, these numbers are expected to double by the year 2012

In Toronto, approximately:

  • 150,000 people are diagnosed with Diabetes Mellitus
  • 10,000 patients suffer chronic, non-healing diabetic wounds
  • 1,000 patients a year will require a leg amputation

In addition to the severe emotional impact of the loss of a leg, these patients frequently become permanently disabled, wheelchair-bound or bedridden, losing their independence and requiring considerable social services including long, costly hospitalizations. It is estimated that only 40 – 50% of senior amputees ever become fully rehabilitated.

Chronic Diabetic Wounds - The Cause: Diabetes Mellitus damages the nerves in the feet resulting in a loss of sensation. Minor skin abrasions and cuts on the feet can occur without pain or without the patient's awareness. Diabetes also damages and blocks blood vessels, particularly small vessels in the feet, resulting in poor circulation and reduced oxygen supply. Without adequate blood supply and oxygenation, the cells that repair wounds and fight infection cannot function. Minor abrasions and cuts can become chronic, infected wounds. Once infection reaches bone, amputation of the limb often results.