Tag: heart disease

Why are my Feet Numb? Help for Diagnosing PAD

Are you wondering, why are my feet numb? Or have you developed leg cramps or calf pain when you walk? While these symptoms might send you running to the podiatrist, they’re actually a sign of peripheral arterial disease (PAD), a form of heart disease. Here’s what you need to know.

Why Are My Feet Numb? Early Signs of Heart Disease why are my feet numb

When you think about heart disease, you probably think about chest pain. Maybe you’ve even heard that shooting arm pain could be a heart attack warning sign. But you probably don’t think about your feet telling you something about your heart. And that’s a mistake.

After all, your heart’s got a big job: it has to circulate blood throughout your body. But, if something slows down your circulation, this form of heart disease could trigger symptoms in your feet and legs.

For that reason, the answer to, “Why are my feet numb,” could be: your heart’s in trouble. And, more specifically, it could be a sign you’ve got PAD. Especially if you also notice leg cramps, skin color changes or patches of hair loss on your legs.

Leg Cramps and Whole Body PAD Symptoms

Why does PAD cause numbness or leg cramps? The answer is pretty simple. When you have this condition, plaque has built up inside your arteries. (We call this atherosclerosis.)  This build-up narrows your arteries, so less blood gets through to your legs and feet.

What happens next? Well, with reduced blood flow, numb feet are possible. Plus, those leg cramps we mentioned can show up when you walk or exercise. And that’s because they’re not receiving enough oxygen-rich blood to support their movement.

C.H.A.T Campaign for Diagnosing PAD

In April, we marked “Limb Loss Awareness Month” and “National Minority Health Month.” And that’s why we need to answer questions like “Why are my feet numb?” by diagnosing PAD. After all, three-in-five heart attack sufferers have PAD, as do one fifth of people over 60 and one-third of people with diabetes over the age of 50. Members of minority communities have a high risk of undiagnosed PAD, which ups their risk for heart attacks, strokes, and  amputations.

For that reason, activists launched a new campaign, called Let’s C.H.A.T.,” to help clinicians diagnosing PAD during routine checkups. The initials stand for Carotids, Heart, Abdomen, and Toes. And they offer a plan for determining vascular health with the tools available in a typical clinic. Here’s how it all breaks down.

C: Check the neck arteries, called CAROTIDS, for an audible sound known as a bruit. This suggests problems with blood flow.

H: Check HEART rhythm and rate.

A: Listen for a bruit in the ABDOMEN.

T: Examine the TOES for foot and leg pulses. This can help detect restricted blood flow due to PAD.

Along with a comprehensive oral health history and our PAD risk assessment metric, these little letters could help patients get an earlier diagnosis. And reduce their risk for cardiovascular complications.

Why are my feet numb and other PAD Symptoms

Of course, these aren’t the only signs of PAD. Other common symptoms include changes in your feet and legs’ skin color. (Usually becoming pale, or even developing a blue-ish tinge.)

Your feet may feel cold, the growth of your leg hair and toenails may slow, or you may even develop leg ulcers. It’s also important to mention that PAD symptoms differ for men and women. Some men develop erectile dysfunction with this condition. And women tend to have fewer noticeable symptoms. This means their diagnoses come later, leading to more serious complications and more invasive treatment needs.

Preventing PAD

Several lifestyle changes can help you reduce your risk for PAD. First and most important: quit smoking if you haven’t already. Like PAD, smoking limits your blood flow. So the two together can make a deadly combination.

Next, it’s very important to follow a vein health diet, to control your cholesterol levels, maintain a healthy weight, and keep your blood sugar levels in the ideal range. Regular exercise can prevent heart disease. (And certain types of exercise can even improve PAD symptoms like leg cramps.) Of course, in some cases these measures won’t be enough to prevent disease. In that case, you’ll need to seek medical treatment options.

Diagnosing and Treating PAD in Houston, TX PAD treatment

Identifying PAD is crucial, because the condition increases your risk for strokes and heart attacks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Because of this serious risk, preventing peripheral arterial disease is incredibly important. And so is early diagnosis and intervention.

In our Houston area vein clinics, we offer an easy assessment to help identify your PAD risk. Then, if you have an elevated risk, or already have atherosclerosis, we can recommend a variety of treatment options. These include angioplasty, stenting and atherectomy. And the option we suggest for you will depend on your current health and the severity of your condition.

Why are my Feet Numb? Non-PAD Related Causes

In some cases, numb feet and leg cramps don’t mean you have PAD. In fact, if you’re diabetic, the answer to “Why are my feet numb?” could be peripheral neuropathy. (This is a form of nerve damage that impacts up to 70% of diabetics. And it limits feeling in your feet, or causes tingling or burning pain.)

Neuropathy is also a common after-effect of chemotherapy. And people living with HIV may also develop this form of nerve damage. You could even develop numb feet without PAD or neuropathy: this symptom could be a side effect of certain medications, as well as autoimmune diseases, kidney problems or even liver issues.

Regardless of the cause, numb feet and leg cramps are symptoms you can’t ignore. For that reason, if you’ve noticed changes in foot sensation, leg cramps or other PAD warning signs, the time to act is now. Schedule an immediate appointment with our team of Houston area vein specialists. Using the Ankle-Brachial Index (ABI, a simple bedside test) we can quickly and painlessly diagnose peripheral arterial disease. Then, if that’s the cause of your numb feet, we can tailor your treatment plan to prevent serious complications and heart disease progression.

 

This is Why a Summer Birthday Means More than A July Birth Flower

If you’re born in spring or summer, you may know your April or July birth flower. But did you that the time of year during which you were born can actually determine the way you die?

Yes, that’s scary…but true! And, more specifically, your birth month is directly linked to your odds of dying from heart disease! Want to know the worst birth months for heart health? Just keep reading!

Spring and Summer: The Seasons of Heart Disease

In a study published in The BMJ, researchers discovered that heart disease is more likely to kill you if you’re born between April and September, the spring and summer months.

Unfortunately, scientists can’t say exactly why these birth months increase your risk. But they do suggest that there’s a connection between your birth month, and your early exposure to seasonal dietary changes, available sunlight and air quality.

To reach these conclusions, they followed 116,911 women who were recruited for the study, and between the ages of 30 and 55 in 1976. Researchers examined the timing of their births, overall causes of death, and deaths caused specifically by heart disease.  Every two years, ending in 2014, the women completed health and lifestyle questionnaires.

By the end of the study period, over 43,000 of the women had died. And 8,360 of those women died of issues related to heart disease. While that figure may not seem so surprising, here’s what is: spring and summer babies were significantly more likely to have that cause of death when compared to their peers who were born in the fall. Still, without a direct causal link, the scientists warn us that this study is observation only. After all, they can’t completely rule out other, unmeasured factors that may contribute to the increased risk.  Still, if your birthday falls in this range—or even if it doesn’t—it’s important to learn the early warning signs of heart disease, so you can seek treatment at the first sign of a problem.

These are the Warning Signs for Heart Disease

Whether you have an April or July birth flower, and regardless of your risk for cardiovascular disease, you should never ignore these tell-tale symptoms. Especially if they are sudden and unexplained:

1. Chest pain

2. Stomach pain

3. Sweating

4. Leg pain, especially when cramps appear with movement. This could be an early sign of of PAD (peripheral arterial disease).

5. Arm pain

6. Swollen ankles (edema), which can indicate circulatory problems or even heart failure.

7. Chronic exhaustion

Treatment Options for Symptom

Luckily for all our July birth flowers out there, we can treat many of these early warning signs of heart disease. When it comes to PAD, our minimally invasive treatments, including angioplasty and atherectomy, can help return blood flow to your outer limbs. In turn, this should boost your overall circulation, and could even reduce your risk for progressive heart disease.

Got edema? We’ve got solutions. First, the FDA recently approved a new edema medication, known as Soaanz. It’s meant for patients who have heart failure and/or kidney disease. So, if you’re not there yet, you may prefer this easy lifestyle solution for leg swelling: eat more zucchini!

It’s simple, but effective for minor cases of edema. Because this veggies has water contents between 90 and 95%, it can help you stay hydrated. And, while you may think adding more water to your body will make your swelling worse, the opposite is true. Because, when you add extra hydration to your system, your body may relax its hold on other water sources. Which could help ease water retention and swelling.

Remember, on their own, any one of these symptoms should be a sign that it’s time to discuss your heart with a healthcare provider. But, in combination, consider these symptoms a potential emergency. Seek medical attention right away. And, if you’re noticing early warning signs of PAD or other symptoms of vein disease, schedule an immediate consultation with our team of Houston vein specialists!

 

 

Here’s One Smart Reason to Grab That Beer!

Did you know that beer can help your heart? Well, it’s true! ‘Tis the season for grilling and chilling, and, as it turns out, that might not be such a bad thing after all. In fact, according to research, picking up your wine glass or beer mug may have a very beneficial effect on your health. Especially when it comes to your risk of contracting certain circulatory conditions, including Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD.)

How Wine and Beer Help Your Heart

Now, this information isn’t entirely new. We’ve all heard rumbles about how red wine—in moderation—is good for your heart. So what’s exciting about this research out of Cambridge and University College London (UCL)?

For one thing, the researchers are giving us updated quantities. Now, they recommend drinking about 1.5 bottles of wine each week, or seven  beers. But that’s not all the research suggests. As it turns out, drinking moderate amounts of alcohol is actually better than not drinking at all.

How did they reach this conclusion? Researchers analyzed data from close to 2 million United Kingdom residents. They discovered that avoiding alcohol and drinking a lot gave you a higher risk for seven different heart conditions. And those conditions include PAD, heart attacks and strokes.

Lead researcher Steven Bell explained that moderate alcohol intake reduces inflammation while boosting good cholesterol levels. Plus, moderate drinking can be social. And connecting with peers improves your overall well-being, including your heart health.

The Impact of Alcohol Avoidance

Now, researchers discovered the benefits of moderate drinking. But, they also found problems with avoiding alcohol completely. In fact, as compared to moderate drinkers, people with zero alcohol intake were more likely to experience angina, heart attacks, sudden coronary death, heart failure, strokes due to lack of blood flow, abdominal aneurysms and peripheral arterial disease.

There was, however, a silver-lining for sober people: not-drinking had no impact on the risk of experiencing cardiac arrest or strokes unrelated to blood flow problems. And, for those who have good reason to avoid alcohol, the researchers noted that alcohol isn’t the only path to decreased risk of heart problems. If you have a good reason not to drink (and there are plenty) you can improve your heart health and decrease your risk of disease with many other lifestyle factors, including diet and exercise. But, if you’re all about moderate, social drinking, take “heart” in these findings, which both Harvard Medical School and John Hopkins Public School of Health have signed off on. And check out these findings about exercise, PAD, and your sedentary or “down” time.

Exercise Therapy for PAD

Drinking beer to help your heart is one way to protect your blood flow. But if you already have PAD, your doctor may recommend a walking-workout to reduce cramping and improve your blood flow. On its own, the benefits of walking can improve your PAD symptoms. But, according to new research, reducing your sedentary time can maximize those results.

According to findings in the Annals of Palliative Medicine, spending less time lying around made exercise more effective for PAD patients. In fact, the less sedentary time recorded by patients, the longer they were able to walk on treadmills (without pain) at the end of the 12-week study period.

What does that mean for you? Go ahead and grab that beer to help your heart. But, instead of sitting down to sip your tall frosty, why not take a little walk around your yard while you do so? Then, if you have any warning signs of PAD, be sure to make an immediate appointment with our Houston area vein and arterial specialists!

 

Sources: British Medical Journal (BMJ)

When Should I Treat PAD?

Are you wondering, when should I treat PAD? This read is for you because, if you’re showing signs of Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD), you may be scared. Chances are you’re experiencing symptoms such as leg cramps when you walk, changes in skin color, cold or numb feet, or even ulcers. Obviously, you want relief from the discomfort. But we understand that you may still feel uncomfortable coming to the office. (That’s why we still offer Telemedicine appointments for many vein conditions.) PAD magnified

Still, you need to understand that PAD poses a very serious risk to your health. In fact, studies show that having PAD is one of the strongest predictors for cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks and strokes. In other words, it’s not something you ignore, or even delay addressing. Want to learn more? Just keep reading!

When Should I Treat PAD? When Symptoms Develop

It’s important to seek PAD treatment as soon as you notice symptoms. The most common symptom of PAD is leg cramps. They tend to appear when you’re walking or exercising, and improve when you rest.

But other symptoms could mean you have PAD. Another common PAD sign is having cold feet. Now, in some cases, cold feet and hands just mean your blood flow is compromised. Other times, cold feet are a sign that narrowed arteries are restricting blood flow to your extremities. If that’s the case, you need immediate PAD treatment. Otherwise, your risk for cardiovascular disease will increase dramatically.

What is Cardiovascular Disease?

Cardiovascular disease impacts your heart and blood vessels. It takes many forms, including atherosclerosis (narrowing of your arteries due to the build-up of ‘plaque.’) But, basically, it encompasses four main conditions: strokes, aortic disease, coronary heart disease, and peripheral arterial disease. Cardiovascular disease is very serious. It is still the leading cause of death in the United States—meaning it’s still more life-threatening than the Coronavirus.

Given the serious nature of heart-related conditions, you must stay on top of problems like PAD, even now. Because, according to our study, doing so could mean the difference between progressive heart disease or improved health.

In the new study from Penn State University, researchers explored the connection between your heart health and your blood pressure, diet, and physical activity levels. To reach its findings, the study followed over 74,000 participants for a few years, watching their lifestyle patterns and their cardiovascular health. Here’s what they found.

How Can I Prevent Heart Disease?

angioplasty for PAD

In order to really reduce your risk for cardiovascular problems, participants needed to follow the American Heart Association’s 7 measures for good heart health. They involving maintaining healthy cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure levels. You must also exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, follow a healthy diet and avoid or quit smoking.

Interestingly, the study discovered that each of these seven measures is equally important. Doing just one is obviously better than nothing; but they have the highest heart-protecting power when they work together.

In other words, if you’re still deciding when to treat your PAD, the answer is: right now. Once atherosclerosis limits blood flow to your legs, that’s already a sign you’ve got cardiovascular problems. And that means your car’s on the road to more serious complications. So, before you get stuck in the traffic jam leading to strokes or heart attacks, take a detour to better health.

Need help finding that off ramp? Request an appointment with our Houston area PAD specialists today. We are here for you in good times and pandemics, so that nothing keeps you from receiving timely PAD treatment.

Sources:

Journal of Cardiology, “Association of Trajectory of Cardiovascular Health Score and Incident Cardiovascular Disease.”

 

 

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