By: Dr. Michelle Vi Nguyen

February is one of my favorite months of the year! Valentine’s Day is around the corner and it is a great time to think about your heart health.

But have you had a chance to think about how your heart health affects your feet? Your heart pumps blood to all your vital organs and to the skin at the very tips of fingers and toes. When your heart is not well, you may not be getting enough blood to your toes. Additionally, if your heart is not pumping blood out steadily, the blood in your legs cannot return to your heart efficiently and you can develop severe swelling in your feet.

Sometimes your heart may be ticking just fine but the vessels are not allowing sufficient blood flow to and from your feet. When your arteries are not bringing enough blood to your extremities this is called peripheral arterial disease or PAD. PAD occurs when there is a blockage or narrowing of the arteries, which reduces oxygenated blood to your feet. In extreme cases, loss of blood flow into the feet can manifest as gangrene. On the opposite end of the spectrum, when we have blood flow into our legs and feet but the veins cannot bring it back up to the core we collect extra fluid in our lower extremity. This is called edema or venous insufficiency. When venous insufficiency is not appropriately treated, patients can develop wounds called venous stasis ulcers.

If you are having symptoms in your feet such as discoloration, swelling, or cold feet you should discuss this with your podiatrist. As foot and ankle specialists, we are trained in being able to triage how certain changes in your feet may be a sign of possible heart or circulation issues. Likewise, if you have comorbidities such as diabetes, kidney disease, or heart disease it would be worthwhile to seek a podiatrist’s insight to ensure your feet’s health is in the best state.

At Southwest Austin Foot and Ankle Clinic, your feet, heart, and overall health is important to us! We would *heart * to take care of you!