Diabetic Foot Ulcers and Cardiac Autonomic Neuropathy



      Diabetic foot ulcers (DFUs) and cardiac autonomic neuropathy (CAN) are severe complications of diabetes mellitus (DM). Both DFU and CAN are associated with increased risk of major cardiovascular events and mortality. Because of the clinical impact of both these conditions, it is important to establish what effect the presence of CAN has on DFU outcomes.


      This is a narrative review of original research articles identified through an electronic search of PubMed, Scopus, and Google scholar databases until June 2021 exploring CAN in individuals with DFUs. We explored prevalence, patient outcomes (DFU healing and amputation), and mortality.


      Evidence suggests that the prevalence of CAN is high, ranging from 43% to 66% among those with DFUs. The presence of CAN may also increase the odds of developing DFUs. A single-center, prospective, observational study has suggested that the presence of CAN significantly reduces DFU healing time. The impact on amputation is indeterminate, with conflicting reports from studies reporting either no or increased risk. On the basis of limited evidence, CAN may be associated with increased mortality in individuals with DFUs.


      The interplay between CAN and DFUs is poorly understood from current literature. Given the high prevalence of CAN in individuals with DFUs and the potential for suboptimal outcomes, further high-quality studies are required to determine future management approaches when both conditions coexist and to establish whether early CAN screening in individuals with diabetes at high risk of foot ulceration may ultimately improve their outlook.


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