February may have been the official heart health month, but caring for your cardiovascular system doesn’t end just because the calendar switched over to March. One condition we see a lot of at our office is peripheral arterial disease, which poses special risks to your feet.
As kids, most of us are told to eat right, exercise, and avoid unhealthy behaviors like smoking, and we hear it again and again as we age. It’s good advice for a whole host of reasons, but did you know that your feet are one of the biggest beneficiaries of healthy living? It’s true.
Peripheral arterial disease, also sometimes called peripheral vascular disease, occurs when blood vessels in your feet and legs narrow and harden due to a buildup of cholesterol and fatty deposits on the inside walls of the tube. It may take several years for you to notice any symptoms, but the problem gradually gets worse until the restriction in blood flow becomes more noticeable—muscle pain, leg cramping, numbing or burning sensations, cold feet, even sores on your feet that won’t heal.
Many people who develop this condition exhibit one or more common risk factors, most related to unhealthy living. Poor diet, lack of activity, obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol all correlate strongly. PAD is especially common among people over 50 for the simple reason that the disease has had more time to progress—your arteries may be 60% blocked or more before you notice symptoms. However, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook if you’re still in your 20s or 30s, because that is when the damage is being done.
So, do your feet a favor—make a commitment to staying active, get your blood pumping, and live right, not just during heart month in February, but all year long. If you are beginning to notice symptoms of poor circulation and need a little extra help, call Family Foot and Ankle Center. With six convenient locations in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, we’re in your neighborhood. Request an appointment online, or call us at either (513) 728-4800 or (859) 282-1572.