Improved Survival of Diabetic Foot Ulcer Patients 1995–2008

Possible impact of aggressive cardiovascular risk management

  1. Matthew J. Young, MD,
  2. Joanne E. McCardle, BSC,
  3. Luann E. Randall, BSC and
  4. Janet I. Barclay, RN
  1. From the Diabetic Foot Clinic, The Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, U.K.
  1. Corresponding author: Matthew J. Young, matthew.young{at}


OBJECTIVE—The purpose of this study was to determine whether a strategy of aggressive cardiovascular risk management reduced the mortality associated with diabetic foot ulceration.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS—After an initial audit of outcomes demonstrating a high mortality rate in 404 diabetic foot ulcer patients with the first ulceration developing between 1995 and 1999, a new aggressive cardiovascular risk policy was introduced as standard practice at the Diabetic Foot Clinic, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, in 2001. In the first 3 years of this policy, 251 patients were screened and identified. The audit cycle was then closed by reauditing the 5-year mortality for this second group of foot ulcer patients in 2008.

RESULTS—Overall 5-year mortality was reduced from 48.0% in cohort 1 to 26.8% in cohort 2 (P < 0.001). Improvement in survival was seen for both neuroischemic patients (5-year mortality of 58% reduced to 36%; relative reduction 38%) and neuropathic patients (36% reduction to 19%; relative reduction 47%) (both P < 0.001). Patients were more likely to die if they were older at the time of ulceration or had type 2 diabetes, renal impairment, or preexisting cardiovascular disease or were already taking aspirin. Prior statin use, current smoker or ex-smoker status, blood pressure, A1C, and total cholesterol were not significantly different between survivors and those who died in the follow-up periods.

CONCLUSIONS—Diabetic foot ulcer patients have a high risk of death. Survival has improved over the past 13 years. The adoption of an aggressive cardiovascular risk management policy in diabetic foot ulcer clinics is recommended for these patients.


  • Published ahead of print at on 12 August 2008.

    M.J.Y. has received honoraria for presentations on cardiovascular risk and diabetes from sanofi-aventis. L.E.R. and J.I.B. were paid in part from a grant from BMS and sanofi-aventis to screen diabetic foot patients for known cardiovascular risks.

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    The costs of publication of this article were defrayed in part by the payment of page charges. This article must therefore be hereby marked “advertisement” in accordance with 18 U.S.C Section 1734 solely to indicate this fact.

    • Accepted August 1, 2008.
    • Received July 7, 2008.
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  1. Diabetes Care vol. 31 no. 11 2143-2147
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