Because they are at opposite ends of the body, people often forget that heart disease can affect your feet. One of the main risk factors that causes heart disease is peripheral arterial disease (PAD).
Peripheral arterial disease is a narrowing of the peripheral arteries serving the legs, stomach, arms and head. It is most commonly found in the lower legs. If untreated PAD can not only lead to heart disease but other lower leg problems such as; ulcerations, ischaemia and even amputation.
What causes Peripheral Arterial Disease?
Potential risk factors for PAD include:
- High blood pressure
- Family history
- High cholesterol
Symptoms of Peripheral Arterial Disease
Symptoms of PAD include:
- Intermittent claudication (painful cramping in the lower limb following exercise or at rest)
- Loss of sensation or weakness in lower leg
- Slow growth of hair, skin and nails
- Shiny skin on the legs
- Sore or ulcers on the legs that are slow to heal
- Absent pulses in the lower limb and feet
What can I do to prevent Peripheral Arterial Disease?
Preventing complications associated with PAD and heart disease starts with you. Lifestyle factors play a big part in the development of PAD. The following 5 tips will help you reduce the risk of heart disease:
1. Quit smoking – Smoking narrows your arteries, making it harder for the blood to circulate around the body.
2. Lower your BMI – Keep it below 30. Obesity is a big risk factor for PAD.
3. Even out your blood pressure
4. Lower your cholesterol
5. Maintain your blood glucose levels – people with diabetes should ensure that their sugars are maintained at a safe level. Complications of elevated BGL’s include PAD.
Our Melbourne Podiatrists can help reduce your risk of heart disease
At Melbourne Podiatrists & Orthotics our podiatrists can check your feet for signs of peripheral arterial disease. Using a Doppler ultrasound they can listen to the arterial blood flow in your feet to determine if there is adequate supply. Early detection of poor lower limb vascular supply or PAD can greatly reduce your risk of heart disease, mortality and morbidity.
Aside from screening through vascular testing, the other main aim of podiatric management is to keep you active, on your feet and able to exercise without pain. This will assist in reducing the risk factors for PAD and heart disease.
So if you are experiencing pain in your lower legs or feet that is limiting your ability to exercise, make an appointment with one of our Melbourne podiatrists today. Healthy feet leads to a healthy heart.