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Take positive steps to avoid feet problems, says expert from Imperial College London Diabetes Centre

07 Jul 2021
Abu Dhabi

Physicians at Mubadala Health’s Imperial College London Diabetes Centre (ICLDC) are using the first-ever World Diabetic Foot Day to encourage patients with diabetes across the UAE to take positive steps to maintain healthy feet. 

Over time, and without proper management, diabetes can affect nerve sensation in the feet, causing loss of sensation and poor blood flow. The combined effect of these two symptoms is that patients may not notice wounds on their feet such as blisters, sores or cuts, and that any wounds they develop can be much slower to heal, increasing the risk of infection. Left undetected and untreated, these wounds can lead to serious complications and even amputations, severely affecting a person’s overall health and quality of life.  

Dr. Sami Tabib, a consultant podiatrist at ICLDC, says: “The number of people with diabetic foot disease is increasing globally – a trend we expect to continue. That diabetic foot disease is a leading cause of disability worldwide is extremely unfortunate as the condition is absolutely preventable. At ICLDC, we start off by taking a holistic view of each patient’s case and sharing simple tips that help our patients take a positive step towards a healthier, happier and more active future, free from serious foot problems.”

Diabetic foot affects 100 million people worldwide. As the number of people diagnosed with diabetes increases, experts expect that number to rise proportionately. Despite being preventable with proper management, patients with diabetes have a 10% to 15% risk of suffering complications caused by diabetic foot during their lifetime.

“Ensuring that blood sugar levels are well managed is important in preventing complications, but it is still important for a person with diabetes to monitor their feet and address any concerns immediately. By helping to prevent foot problems or resolve them quickly if they do develop, we are able to ensure our patients can play an active role in maintaining their health,” continues Dr. Tabib. 

Dr. Tabib explains that ICLDC supports a proactive and holistic approach to diabetes, offering the full spectrum of care these patients might need within a single location. Based on a multidisciplinary team that includes diabetologists, endocrinologists, ophthalmologists, dietitians, cardiologists and other experts, the ICLDC care model focuses on helping patients avoid any complications arising from their diabetes. 

During their journey at ICLDC, patients are offered simple, practical tips to maintain healthy feet including regular examinations, daily washing and moisturising, avoiding direct heat and wearing proper footwear. The multidisciplinary team provides diabetic foot care to high-risk patients where nails are debrided, and calluses are pared down to prevent ulceration, as well as treating any wounds that may develop.

In rare cases where proactive management is not sufficient or where treatment is started too late, ICLDC works with Mubadala Health experts at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi and Amana Healthcare to ensure patients have quick and seamless access to the full range of specialties they require to get them back their normal pre-ulcer lives. 

Amana Healthcare, in conjunction with ICLDC, provides a specialist diabetic foot screening for early identification of potential risk factors that could increase the risk of sustaining a diabetic foot ulcer. Amana also works closely with Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi to transition patients for acute-care interventions and helps support early discharge to their homes or into Amana Healthcare’s rehabilitation facilities. This integrated model of care provides patients with coordinated specialized services across the Mubadala Health network to ensure they receive world-class care. 

Dr Tabib’s foot care tips for diabetes patients 

  • Check your feet every day for wounds or changes to the skin. Make sure to check between your toes.   
  • Be sure to consult a physician about your feet every year to monitor for changes in sensitivity or blood flow.  
  • Wash your feet daily. Test the water temperature with your elbow to avoid scalding.
  • Dry your feet well, especially between your toes. Cut and file your toenails straight across and contact your podiatrist if any problems occur.
  • Apply moisturiser or cream to keep your skin supple and prevent cracking.
  • Avoid direct heat and hot water bottles. Loss of pain and temperature sensitivity make these dangerous.
  • Ensure you wear proper shoes that fit well.
  • Check inside your shoes and socks for sharp objects before wearing them.
  • Diabetes can affect the skin’s rate of healing, so wounds may take a little longer to heal.
  • Cover broken skin with dry, sterile dressing. Do not burst blisters but seek advice from your doctor or podiatrist instead.

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