Did you know that an ultrasound evaluation of your foot might indicate that you have heart disease?

Hardening of the arteries is also called arteriosclerosis. It is a common cause for heart disease, high blood pressure and strokes. Literally, the arteries, which normally expand or widen with the rhythmic contractions of the heart, start to become stiff. Calcium can get deposited along the walls of the artery causing the stiffness. 

This calcium deposition occurs throughout the body and is not limited to the heart itself. When it is seen in other areas of the body, one can assume that it is happening to the arteries that supply the heart as well. The deposition is a slow process, occurring over years.

When evaluating patients with foot pain, ultrasound is used to evaluate the tendons, ligaments, and joints. Additionally, the nerves and blood vessels are routinely evaluated. There are two arteries that are easily seen with ultrasound. Recently, I noticed calcium deposits in the walls of these smaller arteries in a few patients with foot pain. These calcium deposits make the walls of the artery stiff and can be contributory to the pain in the feet. A good blood supply is necessary for healing.

In one of these patients, he had just recovered from BYPASS surgery of the heart. His heart disease was known. In the other, there was no suspicion of heart disease.

In situations where calcium is noticed in the arteries to the foot, an evaluation by a cardiologist would be the standard way to determine the extent of arteriosclerosis.

What to do with this information is starting to change.  When I trained, medications were offered as the treatment. There are side effects to these medications, which are not tolerated well by some people. Lifestyle medicine offers a way to reduce the effects of inflammation (heart disease and strokes are diseases associated with whole body inflammation) and reverse this calcium deposition. Dietary changes can be made to reduce inflammation.  Supplements may be beneficial.  There are a few books written by cardiologists, who promote dietary changes  that they have found to reduce inflammation and reverse these calcium deposits in the blood vessel wall.  These books are sold on Amazon.  Don’t wait for disease to show itself as a stroke or heart attack.  Start to make changes.  Incorporate these changes slowly so that you don’t get overwhelmed.