Diabetes, once diagnosed, is present for life. Diabetes Mellitus is a metabolic disease characterized by elevated glucose (blood sugar), resulting from defects in secretion of the hormone insulin, defects which cause the tissue to resist absorption of insulin or both.
Chronic elevation of blood sugar (hyperglycemia) is associated with long-term damage to the eyes, heart, kidneys, feet, nerves, and blood vessels. About 15 percent of those with diabetes will develop an open wound (ulceration) on a foot during their lifetimes, and 20 percent of these ulcerations will lead to amputations. The annual incidence of non-traumatic lower extremity amputations among people with diabetes is about 54,000, according to the American Diabetes Association. Among African-Americans, the amputation rate is 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 times that of Caucasians, and Native Americans have even higher rates, three or four times that of Caucasians. Diabetes, once diagnosed, is present for life. Considerable research is focused on finding a cure, and much progress has been made in treatment and control of the disease.