How's the circulation in my feet?
This is a very common question we get asked when patients first visit. We gather your medical history, a list of your medications, and we ask what we can do for you. By this point we are already considering the circulation quality in your feet (we've checked over the feet, looked at the toe-nails, and viewed the top and bottom of the feet for any skin abnormalities such as hard skin, corns, verrucae or other potential skin cancerous lesions), we then use a piece of medical equipment called an ultrasound foot doppler, so we can listen to the circulation in the feet. Why? Because if someone has poor circulation or bad pulses, any potential problems such as foot injuries or infections, will take longer to heal.
The sound you get is very similar to the sound you get when a pregnant woman is having baby's heart checked, in fact many people jokingly ask if they are pregnant! To which we normally proudly announce - "Yes, and it's twins!"
Checking the Pulses
So What Exactly Are We Listening For?
The pulse sound is a result of the heart muscles contracting and relaxing, along with the health of your arteries, to give a pulse with up-to three sounds per beat! The healthiest pulses have three sounds, which is what you would expect in a healthy person, usually well into their forties or even fifties.
Your arteries are like an elasticated hose pipe, which expands when the blood is pumped into them when the heart or cardiac muscles contact. This is the first sound you hear. As the heart muscles relax, and the pressure drops, the arteries contact, and the blood flows backwards a short distance. This is the second sound.
As the body ages, arteries can thicken and stiffen leading to high blood pressure and atherosclerosis which is a buildup of fats, cholesterol and other substances in and on the artery walls.
There's a saying in medicine and it goes "You're as old as your arteries...."
Arteries age faster when they're constantly affected by cigarette smoke, foods laden with saturated and trans fats, chronic stress, and other traumas. Knowing your vascular age can give you a clearer picture of your heart's health.
So you can see why us checking your feet on every visit is important, it allows us to monitor your heart health and make sure those arteries are in tip top working order.