February is heart health month, so what does that mean for your feet? Your feet bear the brunt of supporting your body weight all day long. As podiatrists, we often see patients who complain of foot pain, numbness, tingling, or other problems in their feet. What many people don't realize is that the health of your heart and cardiovascular system can have a direct impact on foot health. Your feet require good blood flow and circulation to stay healthy, and heart disease can impair this.
How Your Heart Affects Your Feet
- Poor circulation from heart disease reduces blood flow to the extremities like the feet. This can deprive tissues of oxygen and nutrients, leading to pain, numbness, tingling, sores, and slower wound healing.
- Plaque buildup in the arteries (atherosclerosis) from heart disease narrows the vessels, further restricting blood supply to the feet. This is a major contributor to peripheral artery disease.
- Swelling in the legs and feet (peripheral edema) can result from weak heart function. Congestive heart failure allows fluid to accumulate in the lower limbs.
- Nerve damage (peripheral neuropathy) from diabetes, a major risk factor for heart disease, is a common cause of foot pain and numbness.
- Leg cramps or pains when walking (intermittent claudication) can signal peripheral artery disease caused by cholesterol-clogged arteries.
Protect Your Feet by Caring for Your Heart
The good news is there are many ways to support foot health through improving your cardiovascular function. Here are some tips:
- Maintain a healthy weight and diet. Losing extra pounds takes pressure off your heart and feet.
- Stay active. Regular, moderate exercise boosts circulation and keeps arteries flexible.
- Monitor blood sugar if diabetic. Keeping glucose under control prevents nerve damage in the feet.
- Don't smoke. Smoking constricts blood vessels reducing blood flow.
- Consult your doctor. Medications can help manage chronic conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and circulatory problems
By keeping your heart strong and blood flowing, you'll be doing your feet a favor too. Healthy feet enable mobility and an active lifestyle, which in turn benefit your heart health. It's a two-way relationship worth paying attention to. Contact our office if you have any foot pain, numbness, or other problems that could indicate cardiovascular issues. Taking a proactive approach can help get your feet—and heart—back on track.
Cornerstone Foot & Ankle is a full service foot and ankle specialty office with locations in Sewell, Cherry Hill, Marlton, Mt. Holly, Glassboro and Pennsville, serving the South Jersey region. We offer a full suite of services including surgery, fracture care, fungal nail care, diabetic foot care, pediatric podiatry, custom braces and orthotics, wound care, limb salvage, and treatments for arch pain, heel pain, and sports injuries; just to name a few. If it hurts below your knee, we can help you! CALL NOW or request your appointment online TODAY!