Is neuropathic ulceration the key to understanding increased mortality due to ischaemic heart disease in diabetic foot ulcer patients? A population approach using a proportionate model

J Int Med Res. Nov-Dec 2002;30(6):553-9. doi: 10.1177/147323000203000602.


Ischaemic heart disease (IHD) is the commonest cause of death in diabetic foot ulcer patients and non-ulcerated diabetic patients, yet the mortality rate of diabetic foot ulcer patients is over twice that of non-ulcerated patients. As the cause of this increased mortality is not understood, we plotted the ratio of deaths due to ischaemic heart disease (IHDn) to other causes of death (i.e. IHDn:OCDn) against age for 242 diabetic foot ulcer patients and 121 controls (non-ulcerated diabetic patients). The IHDn:OCDn ratio rose above 1.0 from age 40 years onwards for diabetic foot ulcer patients, but from age 70 years onwards for controls, demonstrating differentially increased mortalities due to IHD. A population model involving summation of IHDn:OCDn ratios for neuropathic and neuroischaemic diabetic foot ulcer patients calculated an overall increased mortality rate of 1.8 compared with that of non-ulcerated diabetics. The model predicted that a 25% reduction in neuropathic diabetic foot ulcer patients dying from IHD would eliminate the increased mortality, demonstrating that neuropathic rather than ischaemic ulceration defines the cause of increased mortality among diabetic foot ulcer patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cause of Death
  • Diabetes Mellitus / mortality
  • Diabetic Foot / complications
  • Diabetic Foot / mortality*
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / mortality
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Ischemia / complications
  • Myocardial Ischemia / mortality*
  • Risk Factors