May 02, 2012

TORONTO, ON – In a new survey of Canadians living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes conducted by Léger Marketing, sponsored by Eli Lilly Canada and being released in collaboration with the Canadian Diabetes Association, results indicate that while 9 in 10 Canadians with diabetes are aware they are at an increased risk of serious foot injuries, 4 in 10 admit to having their feet examined by a doctor less than once a year, only when something is wrong and for some, never.  Of equal concern is 7 in 10 do not examine their feet for blisters, cuts, temperature differences or other injuries on a daily basis and less than 1 in 10 admit to never following a daily nail or foot care regimen.

“Clearly more needs to be done to assist Canadians living with diabetes to take the necessary precautions to protect their feet,” says Michael Cloutier, President and CEO, Canadian Diabetes Association.  “Even small unnoticed and untreated foot injuries can potentially lead to serious complications.  Prevention is the best medicine as a good daily nail and foot care regimen will keep your feet healthy.”

With the arrival of warmer temperatures, many Canadians will begin wearing open-toed footwear such as sandals or flip flops.  But, for the more than three million Canadians living with diabetes, footwear that exposes their feet can make them more susceptible to foot injuries, like a cut or blister.  In addition, damage to their sensory nerves (known as “neuropathy”) can reduce their ability to feel pain, heat or cold in their feet and hands.  This loss of sensation can lead to foot injuries that if left unnoticed can result in potentially serious complications, such as amputation.  In fact, 85 per cent of all leg amputations are a result of non-healing foot ulcers - more than half of which may have been prevented with more effective nail and foot care, and by people with diabetes wearing appropriate footwear. 

It is estimated that 15 per cent or 345,000 of Canadians living with diabetes will develop a diabetic foot ulcer in their lifetime.4 Canadians living with diabetes are 23 times more likely to be hospitalized for a limb amputation than people without diabetes.4 Canadians living with diabetes who see a healthcare professional at least three times per year, however, are 33 per cent less likely to undergo amputation.  It is estimated that diabetic foot ulcers cost the Canadian healthcare system more than $150 million annually.

According to the Canadian Diabetes Association’s Clinical Practice Guidelines, foot examinations should be an integral part of diabetes management for both people with diabetes and their healthcare providers.  In fact, the Guidelines recommend foot examinations be performed at least once a year by a healthcare provider and more frequently for people with diabetes at high risk of foot ulceration and amputation. 

The Canadian Association of Wound Care (CAWC) also recognizes the importance of good foot care. “Education is the key to reducing the occurrence of preventable complications, such as diabetes-related foot amputations.  There are many resources available to help people with diabetes become experts in their own foot care – both on our website, and in our Diabetes Healthy Feet and You program and our recently launched Peer Education initiative,” says Peggy Ahearn, Executive Director of the CAWC. 

“Having the right information can enable people with diabetes to take action. When they know the right questions to ask their healthcare professional, they develop a better understanding of how to properly care for their feet as risks can be identified and precautions advised,” says Dr. Axel Rohrmann, podiatrist and Co-chair of the Canadian Diabetes Association’s Clinical Practice Guidelines Foot Care Tool Kit.

How Canadians living with diabetes can take action

Understanding the importance of foot care is one of the main ways Canadians living with diabetes can manage their condition.  As part of the Diabetes Conversations educational program, a Foot Care Conversation Map has been created to help people with diabetes learn how implementing a regular foot care regimen can help prevent potentially serious health complications.

“Diabetes-related foot injuries are common, costly, yet preventable so long as people with diabetes are equipped with the knowledge to take the appropriate steps,” says Pam Osborne, diabetes educator.  “The Diabetes Conversations program provides people with diabetes with a supportive environment where they can speak with and learn from others struggling with similar issues.  It also provides us as healthcare professionals with an opportunity to identify road blocks that may be preventing a person with diabetes from making healthy foot care choices.” 

The Foot Care Conversation Map was created by Healthy Interactions in collaboration with the International Diabetes Federation and the Canadian Diabetes Association, and sponsored by Eli Lilly Canada. 

To learn more about proper foot care, speak with a diabetes nurse educator or podiatrist, representatives from the Canadian Diabetes Association and/or the Canadian Association of Wound Care about:

  • Taking Steps to Improve Your Foot Care Regimen: Learn the simple steps you can take today to better care for your feet and avoid serious complications.  Adopt a daily nail and foot care regimen that involves washing feet in warm water (no prolonged soaking); using a pumice stone to keep calluses under control; checking feet, between toes and bottoms of feet; trimming nails; using an unperfumed lotion and wearing well-fitted shoes daily.
  • Getting Checked:  Ensure you have your feet examined by your doctor at least once per year and don’t wait until something is wrong.
  • Moving Forward:  Learn about the different resources available to help improve foot care habits and ask questions.  Seek support and resources available at diabetes education centres to learn how to make foot care an integral part of managing your diabetes daily.  Be sure to also speak with others on what it’s like to suffer the effects of a diabetic foot ulcer / wound or leg amputation and get their advice.

About Eli Lilly Canada Inc. 
Lilly, a leading innovation-driven corporation, is developing a growing portfolio of first-in-class and best-in-class pharmaceutical products by applying the latest research from its own worldwide laboratories and from collaborations with eminent scientific organizations. Headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, Lilly provides answers – through medicines and information – for some of the world’s most urgent medical needs. Eli Lilly Canada, headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, employs more than 500 people across the country. Additional information about Eli Lilly Canada can be found at http://www.lilly.ca

About the Canadian Diabetes Association 
The Canadian Diabetes Association is a registered charitable organization, leading the fight against diabetes by helping people with diabetes live healthy lives while we work to find a cure. Our professional staff and more than 20,000 volunteers provide education and services to help people in their daily fight against the disease, advocate on behalf of people with diabetes for the opportunity to achieve their highest quality of life, and break ground towards a cure. Please visit diabetes.ca, join us on facebook.com/CanadianDiabetesAssociation, follow us on Twitter @DiabetesAssoc, or call 1-800-BANTING (226-8464). 

About the Canadian Association of Wound Care 
The Canadian Association of Wound Care is a non-profit organization of healthcare professionals, researchers, corporate supporters, patients and caregivers dedicated to the advancement of wound care in Canada. The CAWC is committed to a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach to wound management and prevention to improve the health of Canadians. CAWC focuses on 3 key areas: education, research and advocacy. Please visit http://www.cawc.netor 1 866 474 0125; Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:

Jeanelle Frampton or Shaday Livingston 
Environics Communications 
416-969-2670 or 416-969-2759 
jframpton@environicspr.com or slivingston@environicspr.com

Helen Stone
Eli Lilly Canada Inc. 
416-693-3169 

Randi Garcha 
Canadian Diabetes Association 
416-408-7071 
randi.garcha@diabetes.ca

References:

  1. Canadian Diabetes Association. Diabetes Facts. (Last accessed January, 24, 2012)
  2. Canadian Diabetes Association. Foot Care: A Step Towards Good Health. (Last accessed January 24, 2012) 
  3. Canadian Association of Wound Care. Frequently Asked Questions, What Does Neuropathy Mean? (Last accessed February 23, 2012) 
  4. Canadian Association of Wound Care. Statistics: Diabetes Foot Ulcers. (Lasted accessed January 24, 2012) 
  5. Canadian Association of Wound Care. Statistics: Diabetes Foot Ulcers. (Lasted accessed January 24, 2012) 
  6. Canadian Association of Wound Care. Statistics: Diabetes Foot Ulcers. (Lasted accessed January 24, 2012) 
  7. Canadian Diabetes Association Clinical Practice Guidelines Expert Committee. Canadian Diabetes Association 2008 Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Prevention and Management of Diabetes in Canada. Can J Diabetes. 2008; 32 (suppl 1):S1-S201. 
  8. Canadian Association of Wound Care. Statistics: Diabetes Foot Ulcers. (Lasted accessed January 24, 2012)