People at increased risk for amputations are those with peripheral vascular disease and diabetes. Peripheral vascular disease is a condition of the circulatory system. Fat and calcium build up on the walls of blood vessels cause narrowing that results in reduced blood reaching the extremities. People with PVD account for over 80% of amputations.
Another risk factor for amputation is diabetes. Diabetes mellitus refers to a group of diseases that influence how your blood sugar is used in the body. Diabetes can lead to a surplus of sugar in your blood resulting in serious health problems. High blood sugar levels can cause nerve damage in your body, including your legs and feet. Nerve damage can diminish the body’s ability to feel pain or symptoms of infections or sores. Treating diabetic complications, such as serious infections or gangrene, also referred to as tissue death, can be challenging. In severe situations, amputating the affected area is the only way to resolve an infection or gangrene.
Because of the higher risk for amputations, careful measures must be taken to monitor and address the medical issues of residents with PVD and diabetes. Residents with either of these diagnoses are prone to wounds, especially on their lower extremities. It is critical that nursing home staff regularly assess these wounds and, with the orders of a physician, implement appropriate treatments.