Aims: To compare the risk of and risk factors for diabetes-related amputation in South Asians and Europeans.
Methods: This was a population-based case control study based in the health districts of Bolton, Oldham and Central Manchester in the UK. Cases with diabetes-related amputation performed between 1992 and 1997 (n = 172) and controls with diabetes and no amputation (n = 376) were selected from the primary care-based North-west Diabetes Foot Study database. Risk factor data were also collected.
Results: Age at diagnosis adjusted odds ratio (OR) of amputation in South Asians compared with Europeans was 0.26, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.11-0.65, P = 0.004. In the control population, South Asians were less likely than Europeans to have peripheral vascular disease (PVD) (9% vs. 24%, P = 0.02), neuropathy (30% vs. 54%, P = 0.003), and less likely to have ever been smokers (31% vs. 57%, P = 0.03). When these factors were added to the model, the OR was attenuated to 0.84, 95% CI 0.23-3.08, P = 0.8.
Conclusions: South Asians with diabetes have about a quarter of the risk of amputation of Europeans. This is mostly explained by low rates of PVD and neuropathy in South Asians, in part associated with low rates of smoking. The reasons for the South Asian protection from both PVD and neuropathy deserve further exploration.