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Can the introduction of a 12-lead ECG help reduce mortality in those presenting with foot ulceration to multidisciplinary diabetic foot clinics? An observational evaluation of a real-world implementation pilot in England.

Diabetologia 2024 April 9
AIMS/HYPOTHESIS: The risk of dying within 2 years of presentation with diabetic foot ulceration is over six times the risk of amputation, with CVD the major contributor. Using an observational evaluation of a real-world implementation pilot, we aimed to assess whether for those presenting with diabetic foot ulceration in England, introducing a 12-lead ECG into routine care followed by appropriate clinical action was associated with reduced mortality.

METHODS: Between July 2014 and December 2017, ten multidisciplinary diabetic foot services in England participated in a pilot project introducing 12-lead ECGs for new attendees with foot ulceration. Inception coincided with launch of the National Diabetes Footcare Audit (NDFA), whereby all diabetic footcare services in England were invited to enter data on new attendees with foot ulceration. Poisson regression models assessed the mortality RR at 2 and 5 years following first assessment of those receiving care in a participating pilot unit vs those receiving care in any other unit in England, adjusting for age, sex, ethnicity, deprivation, type and duration of diabetes, ulcer severity, and morbidity in the year prior to first assessment.

RESULTS: Of the 3110 people recorded in the NDFA at a participating unit during the pilot, 33% (1015) were recorded as having received an ECG. A further 25,195 people recorded in the NDFA had attended another English footcare service. Unadjusted mortality in the pilot units was 16.3% (165) at 2 years and 37.4% (380) at 5 years for those who received an ECG, and 20.5% (430) and 45.2% (950), respectively, for those who did not receive an ECG. For people included in the NDFA at other units, unadjusted mortality was 20.1% (5075) and 42.6% (10,745), respectively. In the fully adjusted model, mortality was not significantly lower for those attending participating units at 2 (RR 0.93 [95% CI 0.85, 1.01]) or 5 years (RR 0.95 [95% CI 0.90, 1.01]). At participating units, mortality in those who received an ECG vs those who did not was lower at 5 years (RR 0.86 [95% CI 0.76, 0.97]), but not at 2 years (RR 0.87 [95% CI 0.72, 1.04]). Comparing just those that received an ECG with attendees at all other centres in England, mortality was lower at 5 years (RR 0.87 [95% CI 0.78, 0.96]), but not at 2 years (RR 0.86 [95% CI 0.74, 1.01]).

CONCLUSIONS/INTERPRETATION: The evaluation confirms the high mortality seen in those presenting with diabetic foot ulceration. Overall mortality at the participating units was not significantly reduced at 2 or 5 years, with confidence intervals just crossing parity. Implementation of the 12-lead ECG into the routine care pathway proved challenging for clinical teams-overall a third of attendees had one, although some units delivered the intervention to over 60% of attendees-and the evaluation was therefore underpowered. Nonetheless, the signals of potential mortality benefit among those who had an ECG suggest that units in a position to operationalise implementation may wish to consider this.

DATA AVAILABILITY: Data from the National Diabetes Audit can be requested through the National Health Service Digital Data Access Request Service process at: https://digital.nhs.uk/services/data-access-request-service-dars/dars-products-and-services/data-set-catalogue/national-diabetes-audit-nda.

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