Listen to Your Feet for the Early Warning Signs of Heart Disease


You rely on your feet to take you places, stand in line, exercise, play sports and even dance. But did you know that your feet may also be an early warning system for heart disease?

February is American Heart Month and the perfect time to learn more about the warning signs of a heart problem. Some of those signals, such as for peripheral arterial disease, can appear in your feet first. 

What Is Peripheral Arterial Disease?

Peripheral arterial disease, more commonly known as PAD, is a common problem where your arteries become narrow and limit the blood flow to your limbs. If your legs don’t receive enough blood, you will feel leg pain when walking.

But if your blood flow to your legs is reduced, it’s very possible that the blood delivery to your heart and brain is also being limited.

So there is a link between a potential heart problem and your feet, and that link appears in symptoms such as:

  • Sores on your feet or toes that won’t heal.

  • Slower growth of your toenails.

  • Coldness in one foot as compared to the other.

  • Loss of hair or slower growth on the feet.

  • Weak pulse in the feet.

Of course, symptoms will appear in other areas of the body and include muscle cramping in the legs or arms that is triggered by walking; leg weakness or numbness; leg change in color; weak pulse in legs.

Your Podiatrist Is Alert to the Early Signs of PAD

As part of all our patient exams, we look for the subtle feet and leg changes that may point to peripheral arterial disease. For example, a patient with normal amounts of body hair but with smooth, hairless skin on the feet may have PAD.

An ankle-brachial index test which compares the blood pressure in the arms to that in the ankles is a simple way to confirm PAD. And the earlier that this problem is detected, the more effective the treatment will be.

Are you at risk for PAD? Risk factors include:

  • Age – being older than 50

  • Smoking, even if you have quit

  • Diabetes

  • High cholesterol

  • High blood pressure

  • History of PAD, heart attack, stroke or heart disease

  • Lack of exercise

Come in for a Comprehensive Foot Exam

The foot specialists at PodiatryCare, PC and the Heel Pain Center have extensive experience in treating all aspects of foot problems. Our team of doctors which consists of Dr. Robert Marra, Dr. Thomas Johnson, Dr. Kristen Winters, Dr. Laura Vander Poel, and Dr. Ryan Donegan is dedicated to serving you with all of the newest diagnostic and treatment technologies. Many treatments and surgeries can be handled right in our offices. Please call us at (860) 741-3041 to make an appointment in one of our offices conveniently located in Enfield, Windsor and South Windsor, CT.