Preventing Further Limb Loss for Non-Traumatic Lower Extremity Amputations (LEA)
Major Risk Factors for further limb loss
Risk factors you cannot control
- Age - rate of amputation goes up with age. 75% of amputees are 65 and older.
- Gender - more amputations occur in men
- Race - African Americans are 1.5 times more likely and Hispanic Americans are 3.5 times more likely than Caucasians with diabetes to have amputation.
Risk Factors you can control
Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) is damage done to the blood vessels due to fatty substances building up on artery walls. The build-up causes blockages. This leads to poor blood flow. Once you have limb loss due to PAD you are at risk to have further limb loss.
- Smoking decreases blood flow, damages vessels, and prevents wound healing.
- Inactivity leads to poor blood flow. Exercise can improve blood flow.
- Obesity leads to other health problems. It can also affect prosthetic use.
- High blood cholesterol can damage blood vessels.
- High blood pressure can damage blood vessels.
- Diet low in cholesterol and fat prevents health problems.
- Infection is harder to fight with poor blood flow.
Diabetes is the leading cause of non-traumatic LEA. It accounts for as much as 60% of amputations. Diabetics are at risk for PAD due to the damage done to blood vessels from high levels of sugar in the blood. This also leads to poor blood flow. If you already have diabetes, you need to manage your diabetes as best you can. This can be done by.
- Frequent blood sugar checks.Control your diet.
- Take your prescribed medicines.
- Prevent ulcers and wounds with proper foot and skin care. Ulcers and wounds can be the source of infection.
- Exercise increases blood flow and helps control blood sugar.
- Smoking decreases blood flow and prevents wound healing.
- Infection is harder to fight if you have poor blood flow.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 03/03/2011
Copyright © 03/03/2011 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#7107
Print Health Fact For You