What do your feet and your heart have in common?
Well, for one thing, you have 2 pulses in each foot that can be detected during a physical examination by a trained doctor. By checking these pulses, a doctor can tell whether the blood flow to your feet is normal. In other words, your feet can function as early warning indicators of heart disease.
February is American Heart Month sponsored by the American Heart Association. It’s important to be aware of the warning signs of heart disease and heart attacks. If plaque and cholesterol build up in the arteries that lead to your extremities, the blood flow can be reduced to your feet and legs. This is called PAD, or peripheral artery disease.
A doctor may pick up on this by checking the pulses in your feet. PAD may also produce other symptoms such as an uncomfortable feeling or pain when walking. Severe PAD can even result in amputation if the blood flow to the leg or foot is inadequate.
Peripheral Artery Disease Can Be a Sign of Coronary Artery Disease
PAD occurs in the peripheral arteries, or those that pump blood to the head, arms and legs. If you have PAD you may also have CAD, or coronary artery disease. CAD causes reduced blood flow to the arteries that lead to the heart. The presence of both of these artery conditions could indicate a serious risk of heart disease.
If your doctor suspects that you have PAD, an ankle brachial index screening test can confirm this diagnosis. Here 2 blood pressure cuff readings are compared – one on your arm and one on your leg. The doctor will check the results to see if there is a difference. You may have peripheral artery disease if the difference is as little as 10%.
Learn More about the Signals of Heart Disease
During American Heart Month, it’s a good idea to review the warning signs of heart disease. Did you know that the warning signs for women can be considerably different than those for men? Even signs as subtle as shortness of breath, nausea or back pain can be early warnings of heart disease or a heart attack for women.
It’s important to call your doctor as soon as possible if you or a family member experiences any symptoms similar to heart disease or heart attack warning signs.
Call Us for Help with any Foot or Ankle Pain
There are many causes of pain while walking – peripheral artery disease is just one. If you are experiencing any pain or discomfort in your foot or ankle, it’s time to call Stavros O. Alexopoulos, DPM. You can reach us in our Chicago office at 773-561-8100 or request an appointment via the website. Dr. Alexopoulos, board certified podiatrist will quickly diagnose your problem and discuss a treatment plan with you.