February is American Hearth Month! To recognize this, we want to highlight the relationship between our feet and our heart. Although it may not seem like it, our bodies are extremely interconnected as every part of our body can affect another. So let’s uncover the truth about the connection between these two seemingly separate systems.
Did you know that your feet can be an extremely useful indicator of heart problems? It’s true. Our foot health can reflect our overall health, including heart health, so watch out for these signs in your feet that may point to issues with your heart:
- Discoloration: If your blood circulation is poor, it will show in the color of your feet. Look out for purple or blue tints in your feet that could indicate heart problems.
- Swelling: Swelling in the feet is a common symptom of heart disease or heart failure, as fluid builds in your body. Regularly monitor your feet to help identify early signs of cardiovascular issues.
- Pain/Coldness/Numbness: Build-ups in your arteries or issues with circulation can cause poor blood flow, especially to distal regions like your feet. In this case, your feet may feel numb, cold, or painful, potentially indicating cardiovascular concerns.
Peripheral heart disease (PAD) is one of the main heart conditions that can take a toll on your feet. PAD is a condition where the arteries in your heart and throughout the body are narrowed, often due to a build-up of fat deposits, causing less blood flow to the extremities such as the feet. This can contribute to pain, numbness, or coldness in the feet as well as cramping when walking.
There are various steps you can take to care for your feet that will in turn care for your heart too. Wearing comfortable, fitted footwear will help support mobility and promote cardiovascular fitness. Engaging in foot exercises such as ankle rotations and toe stretches will encourage blood flow to the feet. Finally, maintaining a healthy weight will help relieve stress on your feet and support your cardiovascular health.
It’s clear that your feet serve more purposes than just carrying you through life, they can also help identify issues with your heart. Therefore, you must stay vigilant in monitoring your foot health. If any concerns arise, Dr. Daniel Dean, an amazing physician who specializes in the foot and ankle, is dedicated to helping you keep your feet and heart healthy.
Dr. Daniel Dean is a board-certified and fellowship-trained foot and ankle orthopaedic surgeon. He treats all musculoskeletal pathologies of the foot and ankle in adolescent and adult patients. He has specialized training in total ankle arthroplasty, sports injuries, flatfoot, complex fractures, and minimally invasive techniques in bunion correction.