Diabetes Mellitus

What is the Human Cost of Diabetes Mellitus?

3 million Canadians

3 million Canadians have Diabetes Mellitus (10% of the general population, 20% of the population over 70 years of age, and 30% of the native population)

450,000 Canadians

450,000 Canadians (15% of diabetic patients) will develop leg or foot ulcers in their lifetime as a consequence of their disease

14 – 24% (100,000) require amputation

14 – 24% (100,000) of patients with diabetes and leg or foot ulcers will require amputation

Leading Cause of Amputation

Diabetes is the leading cause of non-traumatic leg amputations in Canada

16% of patients

16% of patients die during amputation surgery

50% within 5 years

Of those, 50% have an amputation of the other leg within 5 years due to the chronic effects of their disease

6 months

The majority of diabetic patients who suffer double amputations die within 6 months of the second amputation. Life of a “double amputee” is very difficult for seniors and elderly. They require round the clock care-givers. The quality of life is severely affected and many just lose the will to live.

$15,000 per year

Diabetic limb ulcers cost the health care system approximately $15,000 per year for home care.


The direct costs of a limb amputation is $65,000 for surgery and hospitalization


The indirect cost of a limb amputation is $350,000, which includes prosthetic legs, social services, rehabilitation, etc


In the Greater Toronto Area, approximately:

  • 150,000 people are diagnosed with Diabetes Mellitus
  • 10,000 patients suffer chronic, non-healing diabetic wounds
  • 1,000 patients a year will require a leg amputation

In addition to the severe emotional impact of the loss of a leg, these patients frequently become permanently disabled, wheelchair-bound or bedridden, losing their independence and requiring considerable social services including long, costly hospitalizations. It is estimated that only 40 – 50% of senior amputees ever become fully rehabilitated.

Chronic Diabetic Wounds – The Cause:

Diabetes Mellitus damages the nerves in the feet resulting in a loss of sensation. Minor skin abrasions and cuts on the feet can occur without pain or without the patient’s awareness. Diabetes also damages and blocks blood vessels, particularly small vessels in the feet, resulting in poor circulation and reduced oxygen supply. Without adequate blood supply and oxygenation, the cells that repair wounds and fight infection cannot function. Minor abrasions and cuts can become chronic, infected wounds. Once infection reaches bone, amputation of the limb often results.

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