Have you ever had an experience where you’re just going through your day and suddenly you hear a bit of information that just stops you in your tracks? We love those “Who knew?” moments because they make us smarter humans – humbler, too, because we realize just how much there is that we don’t know yet!

Who knew that an average person’s heart beats 100,000 times a day?

Who knew that tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body?

Who knew that smoking has a direct impact on foot health?

Everybody knows that smoking is bad for your lungs and heart. In fact, the World Health Organization’s theme for their annual observance of World No Tobacco Day this year (May 31) is “Tobacco and Heart Disease.” But the very factors that make smoking so bad for your cardiovascular system are the ones that threaten your feet as well.

Tobacco and your feet

When you smoke, your feet are at a high risk of peripheral arterial disease (PAD). The chemicals in tobacco damage your blood vessels, causing them to constrict. Narrowed blood vessels don’t deliver blood as fast as healthy ones, especially to the periphery – those vessels located far from the heart, like your feet. PAD causes pain in your lower limbs, especially when you walk, and sores that are slow to heal. Lack of blood flow can also lead to tissue death, also known as gangrene. Your feet become literally starved for blood, making PAD a leading cause of lower limb amputations.

Buerger’s disease is another compelling reason to quit smoking. Buerger’s disease has the same effects on your blood vessels but through inflamed, rather than narrowed blood vessels. The swollen vessels of Buerger’s disease are seen almost exclusively in people who smoke.

Quitting smoking is the life hack that you didn’t know can actually saveyour feet. Consider a comprehensive foot exam with podiatrist Kenneth R. Wilhelm, DPM at Clifton Foot & Ankle Center in Centreville, VA. It’s preventative care that just might convince you to quit. Call (703) 996-3000 or – who knew? – you can schedule an appointment online at our comprehensive website.

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