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Diabetic Medicine

Year: 2008  |  Volume: 25  |  Issue: 5  |  Page No.: 557 - 563

Prevalence of the diabetic foot syndrome at the primary care level in Germany: a cross-sectional study

A. Samann, O. Tajiyeva, N. Muller, T. Tschauner, H. Hoyer, G. Wolf and U. A. Muller

Abstract

Aims The diabetic foot syndrome (DFS) is an important complication of diabetes mellitus resulting in amputations, disability and reduced quality of life. DFS is preventable. The aim was to investigate the prevalence of the DFS at the primary care level in Germany.

Methods This was a cross-sectional study of the prevalence of DFS, associated factors and glycaemic control at the primary care level in Germany. We examined an unselected sample of participants with known diabetes who were insured by Deutsche BKK, a large healthcare insurer.

Results Three hundred and forty-one general practitioners examined 4778 participants with diabetes mellitus: 366 (7.7%) participants (mean age 49±16years) had Type 1 and 4412 participants (mean age 66±10years) had Type 2 diabetes. DFS was diagnosed in 138 patients, resulting in a prevalence of 3.6%[95% confidence interval (CI) 1.9, 6.0] in Type 1 and 2.8% (95% CI 2.3, 3.4) in Type 2 diabetes. DFS was independently associated with age, duration of diabetes, height, current smoking and insulin therapy. There was no significant effect of glycaemic control on the risk of DFS. The prevalence of other abnormal foot findings was: peripheral neuropathy 9.7%, peripheral arterial disease 14.8% (absent dorsalis pedis), 12.4% (absent tibialis posterior), acute diabetic foot ulcer 0.8%, amputations of lower extremities 1.5%, and amputations limited to toes 0.5%.

Conclusions The prevalence of the DFS at the primary care level in Germany is 2.9%. Almost 50% of patients with DFS had major or minor amputations. Common risk factors such as hyperkeratosis and poor glycaemic control can be modified. Effective therapeutic approaches in addition to methods for primary and secondary prevention of DFS should be used more widely.

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