This American Heart Month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are encouraging Americans to know their blood pressure.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure is a leading cause of heart disease and stroke. People with high blood pressure are 4 times more likely to die from a stroke and 3 times more likely to die from heart disease, compared to those with normal blood pressure.
High blood pressure often shows no signs or symptoms, which is why having your blood pressure checked regularly is important. It’s easy to get your blood pressure checked. You can get screened at your doctor’s office and drugstores or even check it yourself at home, using a home blood pressure monitor.
What Is High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure is also known as hypertension. Blood pressure refers to the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as your heart pumps out blood. Hypertension occurs when your blood pressure rises and stays above normal over a period of time.
Hypertension is often related to atherosclerosis, which is the buildup of plaque in blood vessels. This condition leads to decreased circulation and peripheral arterial disease or PAD. People with decreased circulation in their legs and feet may develop ulcerations which are open wounds on the skin that can lead to amputations.
As a member of the health-care team, our podiatrists are vitally concerned about hypertension and vascular disease. Make sure you tell your podiatrist if you have high blood pressure and any medications that you may be taking for treatment.
Symptoms of poor circulation in the feet and legs may include:
- Cramping in the feet and legs, particularly with exercise
- Sores on the feet or legs that do not heal or take a long time to heal
- Changes in foot color
- Changes in foot temperature
- Loss of hair on the feet and legs
Uncontrolled hypertension can also lead to heart disease, which may present as swelling in your feet and legs.
When to Visit a Podiatrist
If you experience any of the above symptoms, it is important to visit a podiatrist. And if you have been diagnosed with hypertension, it is important to tell your podiatrist, because medications that may be prescribed for a foot or ankle condition could interact with your blood pressure medications. Also, if you need to have foot or ankle surgery, it is important that your blood pressure is under control prior to any surgical procedures.
Diagnosis and Treatment
As part of your visit, our podiatrist will check your vital signs—height, weight, and blood pressure. We will conduct a careful examination to determine if there is lower than normal temperature in any of the extremities, absence of normal skin color, or diminished pulse in the feet. We will also ask you about increased or periodic swelling in the lower extremities.
If any abnormalities in your blood pressure are noted, we will notify you and may refer you to your primary care physician for further evaluation and treatment. If you are experiencing any of the high blood pressure or any the above symptoms, please make an appointment with one of our podiatrists at Affiliated Foot and Ankle Center located in Howell, NJ.