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Your Heart and Your Feet: What’s the Connection?

Jubilee Thobejane

Your Heart and Your Feet: What’s the Connection?

At Randell’s Footcare as part of our routine screening we assess how effective your circulatory system is in delivering blood to your feet. The circulatory system is also referred to as your cardiovascular system. This consists of your heart, arteries, veins and blood. The blood is circulated throughout your body, delivering oxygen, nutrients and hormones while removing waste products like carbon dioxide .

Blood is transported to the feet through this system and your feet depend on your heart and arteries to receive adequate blood supply .This is the pathway that the blood circulation takes from the heart to the foot: Aorta > Iliac artery>femoral artery>popliteal artery> anterior /posterior arteries of the foot. 

Blood Flow from Heart to Feet

How we check your circulation at Randell’s Footcare

At Randell’s Footcare we predominantly assess the 2 main arteries that supply the foot. The first one runs down the front of the ankle and typically goes between the big toe and 2nd toe. The second one runs behind the ankle bone on the inside of your foot . We do this by using a piece of equipment called the ‘doppler ultrasound’ coupled with a gel that helps transmit the ultrasound waves onto the blood vessel. This allows us to pick up the sound made by your arteries known generally as pulses.

The three types of circulation that you can have in your feet (doppler)

There are three types of sounds your podiatrist will listen for when assessing the circulation on your feet. The most common sound is multiple sounds of 2 with each heartbeat. This is regarded as normal as long as your pulse is regular .The next sound which is not as common is a multiple sound of 3 sounds with each heartbeat which is regarded as an outstanding sound as long as your pulse is regular. The last sound is one sound with each heartbeat and is usually indicative of poor blood supply to your feet.

What your foot pulse can tell us about your overall health?

The doppler ultrasound gives us information about whether there is decreased blood circulation to your feet. It could also give us some information about any heart valve defects and heart diseases usually present during birth. In addition it tells us about the quality of circulation to your feet, quality of your arteries and the strength of your heart muscles. 

Why would you need to get a vascular check at Randell’s Footcare? 

Vascular checks at Randell’s Footcare are regarded as a preventative method to developing further disease as well as giving valuable information in case you need to be referred on. Feet are the most neglected part of the body and also the furthest part of the body in relation to the heart . It is important to get an assessment done at least once a year as a health check .

 Any abnormalities found in your pulse could be indicative of a serious underlying issue which could be a matter of life and death so it is advisable to get a vascular assessment done . In people with diabetes it is more so a necessity than just a health check . Long term diabetes can change the blood vessels causing narrowing, inflammation of the layers that make up the blood vessel wall and stiffen them up over time. This in turn affects the output of blood to the foot which can cause severe disease and may even require emergency surgery . 

The most common condition that can be diagnosed early with the help of the doppler ultrasound is an abnormality in the heart’s rhythm . It is important to note that some people naturally have an irregular heartbeat but do not have anything wrong with them. It is however advisable that further investigation be done if your heart’s rhythm presents irregularly during the screening. This is to rule out the array of conditions that irregular pulses point towards. These conditions include stroke, heart failure and heart attacks.

When to visit Randell’s Footcare for a Vascular assessment?

You should visit your Podiatrist if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  1. Numbness and pain
  2. Swelling feet
  3. Abnormal foot colour
  4. Non healing cuts and bruises
  5. Decreased foot temperature
  6. Muscle aches and pain
What would we do at Randell’s Footcare if we found an issue?

If one of our podiatrists notes an irregular heartbeat they will then write a detailed letter regarding any concerning findings to your GP for further investigation and to rule out any life threatening conditions.

Top tips to keep your heart healthy 

-See your dietician or nutritionist regularly for weight management and dietary advice.

-Talk to your GP about which exercises are the most appropriate for you.

-Find stress management tools to help manage your stress

-Manage your chronic illness such as diabetes and hypertension by going for regular check ups

-Cut down on alcohol and smoking . 

Book your Vascular Assessment with us here

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