Good Blood Flow: How's Your Circulation?
The blood flow to your feet is vitally important! You can imagine what might happen if the blood is not getting down there.
Poor blood circulation to the legs and feet is actually a common medical problem called, Peripheral Arterial Disease or PAD. Peripherial Arterial Disease affects 1 in 20 Americans over the age of 50, and a total of more than 10 million Americans. PAD generally results from a build-up of plaques on the walls of the arteries, which impairs the flow of blood.
Risk Factors of PAD
Certain people are more at risk of developing PAD. As previously noted, the risk of PAD increases with age, especially over the age of 50. People with other medical conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol are also high on the list of those affected. In addition, African Americans and smokers have an increased risk of developing PAD.
The consequences of neglected PAD can be quite devastating. As the circulation to the legs and feet becomes impaired less oxygen is delivered to tissues. This means that the skin, muscles, tendons, nerves, connective tissues, bones, and even the blood vessels themselves cannot function as well because all of these tissues require oxygen to be able to do their jobs and function properly.
Symptoms of PAD
Early signs of poor blood flow can be skin and nail changes, hair loss, muscle pain, difficulty walking long distances and poor healing. More severe circulation blockages can result in gangrene and even the need for foot or leg amputation. Seems pretty serious it? But it doesn’t have to be that way. For most people, PAD is entirely preventable.
While you don’t have control over your age or race, you CAN control all of the other risk factors!
One of the most important things you can do to keep the blood flowing in your legs is to use them. In other words, exercise. Tissues that are being used demand more oxygen. And your body responds by actually increasing and improving the circulation to those areas. The next important thing to do is to control the other medical problems that contribute to PAD.
Do you smoke? Do you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes?
Stop smoking! Improve your diet, lose weight and take the medications recommended by your doctor.
What Else Can You Do?
The next thing to remember about PAD is that the earlier it’s diagnosed the more treatable it is. That’s where we, as podiatrist get involved. Most of the time early signs of PAD can be identified by a simple podiatric examination. There are also very basic, painless, non-invasive tests that can more specifically evaluate you for the condition.
Just like with many other medical conditions the most important thing is for you, the patient, to be educated and aware. Manage your own health. When you go for your annual physical talk your doctor about PAD and ask him to check your feet. If he doesn’t do it and/or if you have PAD risk factors then see a podiatrist. Minimize your risk factors by exercising and taking your diet seriously.
You’ve only two legs and feet and ten toes. You definitely want them to last a lifetime! Don’t let peripheral arterial disease take them away from you. If you have any of the above symptoms of peripheral arterial disease or have risk factors present we encourage you to contact us at 562-433-0478 today!