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February is American Heart Month. At Weil Foot & Ankle Institute, one aspect of heart disease that we particularly want to inform our Lake, Cooke and Roselle-Dupage county patients about is hypertension or high blood pressure.

What’s the Connection?

Patients with hypertension often have atherosclerosis. This is the buildup of plaque in the blood vessels which leads to decreased circulation and a condition known as peripheral arterial disease (PAD). PAD restricts the amount of blood flow in the arteries in your legs which means less oxygen-rich blood can get to your legs and feet. This severely impacts your body’s ability to heal foot and leg disorders and can complicate the treatment of many conditions such as bunions, hammertoes and fungal toenails. It can also turn minor problems like blisters or cuts into serious medical threats.

Recognizing the Symptoms

Common signs of artery blockage and restricted blood flow include:

  • Leg pain and cramping that can occur when walking or at rest
  • Numbness or weakness in the legs
  • Cold feet or legs
  • Changes in skin color
  • Sores that don’t seem to heal
  • Loss of hair on legs and feet
  • Discoloration and/or thickening of toenails

If you notice one or more of these symptoms, it’s important that you make an appointment at our Bannockburn, Orland Park, Roselle or any of our other 16 conveniently located offices so that our podiatrists can examine your legs and feet and determine if a circulation problem exists.

Reducing Your Risk

There are several ways you can be proactive in lessening the chances of developing high blood pressure. These include:

  • Eat healthy. Limit sodium (major sources are cold cuts, pizza, canned soup and salty snacks), saturated fats and added sugars. Increase the vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, beans and plant-based proteins in your diet.
  • Don’t smoke. It impedes circulation.
  • Get Moving. Being physically active helps in multiple ways: reduces stress, helps maintain a healthy weight and improves circulation.
  • Get more sleep. Poor quality sleep and short sleep (less than 6 hours a night) are associated with hypertension.

If you have questions about circulation and your feet, don’t hesitate to contact us.