Racial Disparities in Amputation

improve racial disparities in PAD-related amputation rates

Racial Disparities in Amputation

African Americans are twice as likely to get an amputation than Caucasians. Hispanics are 50% more likely to be amputated compared to Caucasians.47

These numbers are disappointing and unacceptable. Our goal at Take A Stand Against Amputation is to reduce the number of unnecessary amputations. Amputation can be a life-changing procedure with long-term, difficult consequences and a higher risk of death.

How to reduce the number of amputations

We need a multifaceted approach to reduce amputations, according to Interventional Cardiologist Aaron Horne, MD of HeartCare Specialists in Fort Worth, Texas. That effort needs to involve patient advocacy, physician education and policy making.

Amputations have been normalized. The upswing in diabetes has made amputations feel common, especially in the African American community. Instead of questioning whether there are other treatment options, patients and their family accept the recommendation without getting a second opinion. Click here to learn more about how to get a second opinion and why that’s important.

People need to advocate for themselves. Patients often show a deference to their health care provider, according to Dr. Horne.

“It’s ‘Whatever you say, doc’ or ‘You’re the doctor, I don’t know,’ ” he says. “It’s important to ask questions. Advocate for yourself. Be comfortable with talking to your healthcare provider.”

In addition, not all doctors are PAD specialists. If you want to find another doctor to consult, you can use our Find a Doctor locator tool.

Health care providers need to be aware of the disparities. Dr. Horne believes that the medical community needs to do a better job of educating their peers about PAD, technology and treatment. “53%5,16 of patients in this country have amputations without getting diagnostic tests to see if something can be done to get it fixed,” he says. “That needs to change.”

Learn, use and support the American Diabetes Equity Bill of Rights. It’s 60% more likely that African Americans will get diagnosed with diabetes and every 4 minutes a limb is amputated due to diabetes that could be avoided, according to the American Diabetes Association. That’s why the organization is trying to remedy the health inequities facing people of color. It’s 10-point Health Equity Bill of Rights seeks equal access to health care for everyone. Learn about the Bill of Rights here.

How to schedule a PAD appointment

Only a health care professional can determine if you have PAD and what stage you have. Learn more about the symptoms of PAD and how the disease progresses on our website. If you don’t have a PAD specialist, use our Find a Doctor tool to locate one.