The surprising healthcare costs of diabetic neuropathy . . .
. . . and what you can do to help!
Diabetes is the health condition that is stressing the budgets of healthcare systems worldwide. With a projected 40% increase in the rate of diabetes by 2040, the cost of managing this condition is expected to rise proportionally and this will be financially crippling for some countries. In the US, diabetes is considered a threat to national security by some analysts because of the financial strain it will put on the government and economy.
Do you know the healthcare costs of diabetes?
The most recent data (2017) from the American Diabetes Association shows that the average medical cost per year for a person with diabetes is $16,752 (USD), of which $9,601 can be directly related to diabetes. Diabetes costs the US $327 billion per year, of which $237 billion are direct medical costs and $90 billion in lost productivity. While these figures are from the US, they are proportional to costs in Canada and the EU.
How does diabetic neuropathy affect these healthcare costs?
Recent research published in Neurology Clinical Practice has evaluated the healthcare costs of over 360,000 people with diabetes and followed them for a 5-year period. Those with neuropathy at baseline had 20% higher costs compared to those with diabetes and no neuropathy. The healthcare costs of those with neuropathy increased 11% over the 5-year study period.
Pharmacy related expenditures were the main reason for the difference in healthcare costs. Those with neuropathy were 200% and 224% more likely to use opioids and antidepressants respectively for symptom management.
Other interesting findings:
- Risk of amputation was over 16x higher for those with neuropathy
- Lower limb infections were 87% higher for those with neuropathy
- Those with neuropathy had higher falls compared to diabetes
What can I do?
Diabetes and diabetic neuropathy place a growing burden on healthcare systems around the world. The most impactful strategy for reducing the healthcare costs associated with diabetic neuropathy are from reducing the risk of developing the condition.
Reduce Risk - maintaining control of blood sugar is the most effective strategy for preventing the development or progression of neuropathy. High blood sugar is the primary risk factor for neuropathy.
Protect Nerves and Repair Nerve Damage is the only strategy to stop and reverse the impact of neuropathy. Pharmaceutical therapy, including opioids and antidepressants, can only manage symptoms and do not address the nerve damage that is causing the symptoms. Frontline Neuropathy is the only evidence-based therapy for neuropathy that has been shown to protect nerves from damage and support nerve regeneration in patients with diabetes.