Learning More about the Heart-Foot Connection

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When it comes to the overall health of your body, your feet are like the proverbial canary in the coal mine. As the story goes, coal miners would bring small caged birds into the mines for them to detect poisonous, odorless gas. If the birds died, the gas was present and the miners needed to evacuate before they were injured. When it comes to cardiovascular health, your feet provide the same kind of emergency signals.  

Arterial blockages in the heart can appear first as symptoms in the feet, ankles, and lower legs. Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a condition in which the heart is unable to fully and effectively circulate blood to the extremities.  

Initially, there may be no symptoms. Later, the feet may appear bluish in color. You may notice sensations including numbness, tingling, a loss of hair on the feet, and pain in the legs when standing or walking. Your feet may feel chilled and not warm up even if you put on socks or take a warm bath. In time, and especially when combined with diabetes and/or neuropathy, PAD can contribute to foot ulcers. These are wounds that won’t heal and can become infected, leading to hospitalization and, in the most extreme cases, amputation or even death. 

The best ways to prevent cardiac disease and PAD and minimize the risks that these illnesses pose to foot health are simple lifestyle changes:

  • Exercise regularly. This doesn’t have to be taxing to be beneficial. Take a walk or try a gentle yoga class.

  • Eat sensibly. Be sure that your diet includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains.

  • If you have diabetes, follow your doctor’s instructions and take all medication as prescribed. 

Of course, the best way to protect foot health is with regular visits to a board-certified podiatrist like Eric Kosofsky, DPM and Robert Rutstein, DPM. With years of specialized training and experience, your podiatrist is the best-qualified medical professional to care for this part of your body. Schedule an appointment in our modern, comfortable Hartford and Rocky Hill offices today. Call the friendly Hartford Podiatry Group staff at 860-523-8026 or click here to get started.