Concerns for the increasing number of diabetes-related amputations are being addressed this week during National Diabetes Week.
More than 4400 diabetes-related amputations are performed in Australia every year, costing the nation more than $800 million annually. Surprisingly, most of these operations are preventable through health checks and management.
Miranda Hayman, a 23-year-old musical theatre performer from Matraville, has been living with type 1 diabetes since the age of 10. She said she had adapted her lifestyle to combat her condition.
“It changed my life in a lot of ways,” Ms Hayman told The Newsroom.
“With my lifestyle it’s hard to keep my sugar levels balanced as I eat at different times and exercise at different times each day, so I was never able to plan meals or have the same amount of insulin each day. I tailor my insulin to my activities on the day, which is different to a lot of diabetics.”
Ms Hayman has found working in the performing arts is difficult with her condition because she regularly needs to check her blood levels and inject herself with insulin.
“Some [performing arts] contracts won’t take me. Cruise ships, for example, won’t hire me because of my diabetes,” Ms Hayman said. “I need to check my blood levels around eight times a day, usually before any activity or before eating a main meal.”
To minimise her health risk, Ms Hayman injects herself with insulin at main meals, before bed and any time she needs a correction dose. In total? About 6 times a day.
Diabetes Australia CEO Greg Johnson revealed shocking statistics this week at the launch of National Diabetes Week.
“Australia’s health system is struggling to manage the growing burden of chronic disease, most notably type 2 diabetes, and the fact that there are more than 4400 diabetes-related amputations in Australia every year, as a result of diabetes, underlines how critical this issue is,” Mr Johnson said.
“To put that in perspective – today around 12 people will undergo a diabetes-related amputation. Tomorrow – 12 more amputations. Experts estimate that spending on diabetes-related amputations, and other costs related to diabetic foot disease, costs Australia around $875 million every single year.”
Sophia Zoungas, president elect of the Australian Diabetes Society, said the number of amputations was preventable with an integrated and comprehensive approach.
“Almost all diabetes-related amputations are preceded by sores or ulcers on the foot,” Professor Zoungas said. “If these sores are detected and treated early and effectively then they don’t escalate to a situation where amputation is required.”
Professor Zoungas also urged anyone with diabetes to have their feet checked by a health professional twice a year for good diabetes management.
Mr Johnson said the Australian government should place a higher priority on the prevention of diabetes and work together on fighting this “national emergency”.
“Eighty-five per cent of diabetes amputations are preventable if problems are detected early and managed appropriately,” he said.
“The next Federal Government should work with State and Territory Governments to establish and fund a taskforce dedicated to leading and directing the initiative. Diabetes amputation prevention has to be a priority for every Primary Health Network in Australia.” – Paul Burns