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More Veterans Lose A Limb to Chronic Disease, Study Says

    A recent study found that more veterans are more likely to lose a limb to disease postservice than in conflict. The researchers perused data on 253,000 nonveterans and 78,000 veterans born between 1945 and 1995. The study is published in the BMJ Journals.

     Chronic disease, not conflict, is the leading cause of amputations among veterans.

    Based on the records, trauma or conflict was rarely the cause of amputation among veterans. Researchers found that about two-thirds of veteran and nonveteran amputees lost a limb to peripheral arterial disease, while type 2 diabetes caused limb loss in 41% of veterans and 33% of nonveteran amputees. According to the University of Glasgow’s Beverly Bergman, Ph.D., a third of each group was diagnosed with a dual diagnosis. 

    Furthermore, the study found that veterans have an increased risk of developing chronic disease due to risk factors like smoking. Because of this, the group’s disease-related amputation rate is no different than nonveterans.

    The study’s findings spotlight the severity of chronic disease around the world, specifically among older adults. In particular, peripheral arterial disease and diabetes, both common to the aging population, have higher chances of leading to limb loss. Despite what the data suggests, conflict-related limb loss has such a high public profile that it negatively impacts and eclipses the needs of veterans who have lost a limb to chronic disease.