Amputee Coalition Presents Statistics Stating African Americans at Higher Risk for Limb Loss

African Americans are almost four times more likely to lose a limb as non-Hispanic whites, according to the Amputee Coalition.

“There are a number of reasons for these disparities,” Charlie Steele, an African American, Amputee Coalition board member and who also sits on the Amputee Coalition’s Scientific and Medical Advisory Committee, stated in a press release. “I smoked, didn’t exercise, didn’t eat right and had high cholesterol and diabetes. I was a busy executive, a type ‘A’ personality, and I ignored the warning signs. I was a ticking time bomb. I lost my leg to complications for all of those reasons, and genetics didn’t help my case at all. I didn’t know about my high risk factors until it was too late.”

Steele’s doctors say his amputation was preventable. Now living a healthy lifestyle, Steele has a message for the American public: “Don’t ignore the warning signs for limb loss.”

Sixty percent of amputations are preventable, according to the Amputee Coalition, the national nonprofit organization serving more than 2 million people with limb loss and more than 28 million people at risk for amputation.

“Most amputations are due to diabetes and peripheral artery disease, which are controllable chronic diseases,” Steele stated. “With current limb loss statistics alarmingly high for African Americans, I encourage anyone with diabetes or peripheral artery disease to get checked out.”

Those at high risk are also urged to get an annual Ankle-Brachial Index and maintain proper foot care.

“The ABI is a simple and reliable way to learn if you have any circulation problems in your legs,” Steele stated. “Studies have also shown that about 80,000 toe, foot and lower-limb amputations related to diabetes could be prevented if people only took better care of their feet.”

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