Researchers at Cardiff Met’s Wales Centre for Podiatric Studies are about to launch two pilot studies to help detect circulatory problems in people with diabetes.
The first study, which has secured £74,000 funding from the Welsh Government’s ‘Health and Care Research Wales’, will see 1,100 patients right across Wales screened at their GP practice using brand new portable technology.
The ‘Dopplex Ability’ device will allow GP practices to screen for peripheral arterial disease (PAD) within five minutes. Previously, tests have taken a minimum of 30 minutes.
Patients diagnosed with PAD will be encouraged to make healthy lifestyle choices, such as stopping smoking and increasing physical activity levels. GPs will also offer dietary advice as well as possible courses of medication.
PAD can not only be a powerful predictor for coronary heart disease and cerebrovascular disease, but for people with diabetes, it can also lead to foot ulcers and gangrene which, in worse case scenarios, can require limb amputation.
The Dopplex Ability device has been developed by Huntleigh Diagnostics in Cardiff and brings together ankle blood pressure and total blood volume to the foot in a portable device for the first time.
The second study, which has received funding from Cardiff Met’s Research and Enterprise Innovation Fund (REIF), will see the university’s researchers working in conjunction with the Retinopathy Screening Service Wales, Cwm Taf Health Board and Cardiff and Vale University Health Board.
The study will screen 650 diabetics in Wales during their annual eye check-ups – utilising the 20 minute wait after eye drops are administered to screen for PAD using the Dopplex Ability and nerve damage in the feet using a nylon filament.
Speaking about the pilot studies, Dr Jane Lewis from Cardiff Met who is leading these pilot studies, said:
“Right now there are 177,000 people in Wales living with diabetes, and it has been estimated that a further 70,000 people in Wales have diabetes but are either unaware or have no confirmed diagnosis.
“There is limited evidence on the prevalence of peripheral arterial disease in the general population. However, about 20% of the UK population aged between 55 and 75 years have evidence of lower extremity PAD – about 850,000 people in total.
“Approximately 60% of people with PAD don’t display any symptoms - meaning this disease is massively under-diagnosed which can create further and complex health problems.
“Unfortunately, many diabetics aren’t diagnosed with PAD until it’s too late and these pilot studies hope to find innovative ways of really boosting the numbers of people who can be screened in a ‘one stop shop’ method.”
Director of Research at Cardiff School of Health Sciences, Dr Phil James, said:
“This is an excellent example of the type of applied research being undertaken across our School and is an integral component of our overall research strategy focus.
“Cardiff Met initiated this research and will be supporting these studies moving forward. This work will not only inform current understanding and health care providers but will have immediate and significant “real-life” effect on patients and public.”
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