Science & Tech

Study finds that divorced diabetic men have higher risk of amputation

Study finds that divorced diabetic men have higher risk of amputation
1.3 Billion People To Have Diabetes By 2050

Divorced men with diabetes are at the highest risk of having some or all of their feet and legs amputated because of it, research has found.

According to a study of almost 67,000 people with diabetes in Sweden, people with the condition who are divorced are 67 per cent more likely to have to undergo a lower limb amputation than those who are married. Meanwhile men are at 57 per cent greater risk than women.

On average, 184 people a week in England have some part of a lower limb removed surgically to stop infection spreading and killing them.

Lasantha Wijesinghe, a consultant vascular surgeon in England who performs lower limb amputations, said they were usually necessary because the person’s life was at risk because of sepsis.

The authors of the study, which has not been peer-reviewed yet, said they could not be sure why divorcees of both sexes ran such a greater risk than married people, but speculated that this “may be due to a change in self-care and food habits observed in people when they divorce and are more likely to be living alone”.

“Specifically with men, this is often related to more social isolation, with a secondary effect of low physical activity,” they added.

Older people are also at higher risk of an amputation and patients who are on insulin treatment, have a pre-existing foot condition such as neuropathy or who smoke are also at higher risk. The study also concluded that obese people have a lower risk than those with a standard weight. The authors could not explain this finding but suggested it could be down to chance.

Dr Faye Riley, the research communications manager at Diabetes UK, said: “This study identifies a range of factors that may be linked with a higher risk of amputation among people with diabetes, and raises interesting questions about how social support can influence our health behaviours and outcomes. By pinpointing which people with diabetes are most at risk, support can be targeted where it’s most needed.”

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