World Heart Day is September 29. It’s a great time to stop and think about our body’s amazing heart. Why would Clifton Foot & Ankle Center’s board-certified podiatrist Dr. Kenneth R. Wilhelm be interested in his patients’ hearts? Because when you have heart disease, you often have big problems in your feet as well.
3 ways to honor your heart
The major risk factors for heart disease are a poor diet, smoking, inactivity, and family history. Unfortunately, you can’t control your genes. But you sure can.
- Improve your diet.
If you’re overweight, you’re most likely putting stress on your heart. Changes to your diet that help you shed pounds can prevent the buildup of plaque in blood vessels surrounding your heart. Just as plaque can impede the flow of blood and lead to a heart attack, a breakdown in the transportation system that brings blood to your feet can lead to foot cramps, cold feet, hair loss on your toes, tingling in your legs and feet, or pain when you walk. All of these symptoms point to poor circulation, a condition known as peripheral arterial disease, or PAD. If you’re experiencing symptoms of PAD in your lower legs, don’t ignore them. They’re sometimes the first indication that your heart isn’t working properly.
- Stop smoking.
The effects of nicotine and other chemicals in tobacco can cause inflammation of the arteries and veins in your legs, a condition called Buerger’s disease. Smoking also greatly increases your risk of PAD.
- Get some exercise.
To honor your heart, make it your goal to be more active every day. Spend less time sitting. Take up walking with a friend. Run, swim, hike, or bike – do whatever pleases you and stick with it!
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the world and a threat to your feet. If you suspect that your feet exhibit signs of heart disease, get some help. Make an appointment for a complete foot exam with Dr. Wilhelm at our office in Centreville, Virginia. We’re located in Fairfax County and welcome residents of northern Virginia and the D.C. area. Call us at (703) 996-3000 or contact us online.