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The Making of Medicine

A Simple Way to Prevent Diabetes Amputations

Wellness visits.

People with diabetes who take advantage of the free annual wellness visit covered by Medicare are 36% less likely to lose a limb to the disease, new research from our Jennifer Lobo, PhD, and colleagues has found.

The researchers looked at Medicare data collected between 2006 and 2015 in the "Diabetes Belt," a huge swath of counties in the Southeastern and Appalachian regions of the United States that suffer higher rates of diabetes. The belt includes Mississippi and parts of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. 

Patients inside the belt had a 27% greater chance of needing a lower-extremity amputation compared with residents of surrounding counties.

The odds were 36% lower, however, for patients who used their free wellness visit. And that's not just compared to those their peers in the Diabetes Belt -- the odds were 36% lower than for patients who did not take advantage of the visit regardless of where they lived.

Good reason to schedule that appointment. Preventative care is important.

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