Depression and incident lower limb amputations in veterans with diabetes

J Diabetes Complications. 2011 May-Jun;25(3):175-82. doi: 10.1016/j.jdiacomp.2010.07.002. Epub 2010 Aug 30.


Problem: Depression is associated with a higher risk of macrovascular and microvascular complications and mortality in diabetes, but whether depression is linked to an increased risk of incident amputations is unknown. We examined the association between diagnosed depression and incident non-traumatic lower limb amputations in veterans with diabetes.

Methods: This was a retrospective cohort study from 2000-2004 that included 531,973 veterans from the Diabetes Epidemiology Cohorts, a national Veterans Affairs (VA) registry with VA and Medicare data. Depression was defined by diagnostic codes or antidepressant prescriptions. Amputations were defined by diagnostic and procedural codes. We determined the HR and 95% CI for incident non-traumatic lower limb amputation by major (transtibial and above) and minor (ankle and below) subtypes, comparing veterans with and without diagnosed depression and adjusting for demographics, health care utilization, diabetes severity and comorbid medical and mental health conditions.

Results: Over a mean 4.1 years of follow-up, there were 1289 major and 2541 minor amputations. Diagnosed depression was associated with an adjusted HR of 1.33 (95% CI: 1.15-1.55) for major amputations. There was no statistically significant association between depression and minor amputations (adjusted HR 1.01, 95% CI: 0.90-1.13).

Conclusions: Diagnosed depression is associated with a 33% higher risk of incident major lower limb amputation in veterans with diabetes. Further study is needed to understand this relationship and to determine whether depression screening and treatment in patients with diabetes could decrease amputation rates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Amputation, Surgical / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Comorbidity
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Diabetic Foot* / epidemiology
  • Diabetic Foot* / psychology
  • Diabetic Foot* / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Veterans / statistics & numerical data*