Let’s go back to high school Anatomy class. The human heart has four chambers that beat in rhythm. Blood is pumped into the heart by your veins and pumped out of your heart by your arteries. If you have poor circulation in your legs and feet, it could be caused by a problem with either your veins or your arteries. Both have very different symptoms, but they are equally bad for your health.
Here is a quick rundown on the two main culprits: Venous Insufficiency and Peripheral Artery Disease.
Your veins carry blood back to the heart. If they are not functioning properly, your circulation becomes an uphill battle, literally. Veins are equipped with valves that open and shut and keep the blood flowing in the correct direction. When these valves have trouble opening and closing it can lead to Venous Insufficiency. Signs of venous insufficiency include swelling, varicose veins, feeling of heaviness in the foot, and could eventually lead to leg ulcers. You are more likely to develop venous insufficiency if you are over the age of 60, you smoke, you are obese or lead a sedentary lifestyle, or if you have high cholesterol.
Peripheral Artery Disease
Arteries carry freshly pumped blood away from the heart to your extremities. When your arteries are constricted, narrowed, or blocked, you may experience symptoms of Peripheral Artery Disease. Contributors to PAD include smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and leading a sedentary lifestyle. Persons suffering from PAD may have mild symptoms such as persistently cold hands and feet, or more serious issues like chronic leg cramping, burning sensation, or numbness.
Wearing compression hose or elevating your feet are good home remedies to help alleviate symptoms. But that’s not enough; stop smoking, get your cholesterol to a healthy level, and increase your exercise. Treating the underlying causes of either condition is the only way to ensure long-term relief. If these conditions are left untreated for too long, they both can lead to life threatening issues that go way beyond your feet. If you experience any of these symptoms, talk to your podiatrist about your circulation today.