(StatePoint) While many people are aware of the risk factors of heart disease, fewer are aware that the blockages that can cause heart disease affect more than coronary arteries — they can also affect other arteries throughout your body. This condition is called vascular disease, and can cause serious effects that may result in amputation of your lower limbs.
Experts point out that your feet are an early warning system for vascular disease.
“Podiatrists are often the first physicians to spot and diagnose vascular disease,” says Dr. R. Daniel Davis, DPM, immediate past president of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA).
Although risk factors for vascular disease can vary from patient to patient, here are seven of the most common, some of which can be managed by maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
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When it comes to smoking, consider calling it quits. Smoking increases the risk of many serious health conditions, including vascular disease.
<strong>2. Using oral contraceptives.</strong>
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If you take oral contraceptives, it’s important to be mindful of their association with an increased risk for vascular disease.
<strong>3. Family history of vascular disease.</strong>
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Talking to your family members about their health history is a great way to get a more complete picture of your own risk for a number of conditions, including vascular disease.
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For a number of reasons, those with diabetes should pay careful attention to their feet. One reason is that diabetes is a risk factor of vascular disease.
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Obesity can increase your risk for a number of health concerns. Maintain a healthy weight if possible, particularly if you have other risk factors for vascular disease.
<strong>6. High cholesterol.</strong>
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While there are no noticeable symptoms of high cholesterol, it can be dangerous for a number of reasons. Some people can help lower their cholesterol with a healthy diet and exercise. However, if you have a family history of high cholesterol, a healthy diet and exercise might not be enough. Talk with your doctor to find out if you need medication to help lower your cholesterol.
<strong>7. High Blood Pressure.</strong>
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High blood pressure is common, and can be risky for a number of reasons, including its association with vascular disease.
If you see a suspicious spot, blister or wound on your foot or ankle and you have one or more of the above risk factors, make an appointment with an APMA-member podiatrist right away. Podiatrists are the most qualified doctors to care for your feet, ankles, and related structures of the leg and can help you get an early diagnosis of vascular disease.
More information about vascular disease can be found at <a href=”http://www.apma.org/vascular” rel=”nofollow”>apma.org/vascular</a>.
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