Dubai: A health expert has warned that one in five UAE diabetics who develop foot ulcers need limb amputations, not least because they take the condition too lightly.
Dr. Marwan Al Zarouni, head of plastic surgery and wound care at Dubai’s Rashid Hospital, said many patients downplay symptoms and fail to seek medical help in time.
“Diabetic foot is a serious disease that accumulates overs many years, you can’t ignore it. Some patients come in when it’s too late — you can’t save the limb then,” he told Gulf News on the sidelines of the 3rd International Diabetic Foot Conference in Dubai on Friday.
“The foot may have gangrene setting in by then, but some patients still hope things will go back to original health when they come to the hospital. It can be a very difficult situation.”
The complications develop as diabetes impairs the body’s ability to heal itself, turning otherwise non-serious foot wounds into a limb-threating condition.
Dr. Marwan said in a statement: “Many complications can be associated with diabetes but one of the worst effects of diabetes can be witnessed on the feet. Twenty five per cent of all diabetics end up with foot ulcers. One in five diabetic patients in the UAE who develop foot ulcers needs amputation.”
Diabetes is the world’s leading cause of lower limb amputations, the statement added. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that more than 1 million annual limb amputations occur globally. 85 per cent of them are believed to be avoidable if given appropriate medical attention.
“There is a need for diabetics in this region to be aware of these complications so that they can better manage the disease. Regular monitoring of blood sugar levels and diet and lifestyle modifications are essential to keep diabetes in check and prevent such complications,” Dr. Marwan said.
The two-day conference was inaugurated at Jumeirah Emirates Towers by Khalid Al Shaikh Mubarak, Deputy Director General of the Dubai Health Authority.
Al Shaikh Mubarak said in a statement: “The Dubai Health Authority has proactively undertaken major initiatives to raise awareness about diabetes, which is a pressing medical condition that has affected a significant percentage of our population.
“Raising awareness about the disease, prevention and management of the disease is of vital importance to the DHA. Conferences such as this specialised one provide a platform to raise community awareness as well as facilitate exchange of knowledge between core practitioners and caregivers in the field of diabetes.”