The foot connection: a link that can save your life

Your feet can tell you a lot about how much cover your body has against the two diseases that are claiming the most lives – heart disease and stroke.


We often ignore our feet because we are more concerned about the aches and pain in those parts of our bodies we associate with something scary. It is easy to overlook feet because they are not what many consider a major part of the body like the heart. This is arguably true to some extent, but keeping tabs on your feet may make it easier to identify what they are trying to say about your health. This is especially important when it comes to heart disease (also known as cardiovascular disease) and stroke – the two diseases claiming the most lives every day.

In most cases, the signs of heart disease or the potential of suffering from a stroke are not apparent, and by the time everything does come out, it is usually too late. Heart disease and stroke are killing the most people in the world every year because they tend to kill silently and quickly. Reports indicate that 1 in every 7 deaths in the USA is a result of some form of heart disease and stroke takes 1 life every 10 seconds. On the global front, over 30% of all deaths are a result of either heart disease or stroke. In 2015 alone, the cause of 7.4 million deaths was heart disease while the cause attributed to 6.7 million deaths was stroke. Diseases like AIDS may have disturbed the world, but a more chilling fact is that stroke and heart disease have continued to kill more people annually than malaria, tuberculosis, and AIDS combined.


Source: WHO

The sad thing about these two diseases is that the loss of lies is continuing when simple behavioral and lifestyle changes are usually enough to combat them. One of the lifestyle choices that can mean the difference between death and life is simply staying in touch with your body and noticing some small changes that may indicate an underlying problem. The feet are a common factor with both these dreadful diseases and it is important to look out for some telltale signs on your feet that may alert you to existing or potential problems. Chinese medicine has long been revered and it is not surprising that foot reflexology is popular – there is a link between your feet and your wellbeing. If your feet do not look or feel happy, it is time to consider what they are trying to tell you.

Your feet and heart disease

Heart Disease Prevalence

ag scientific


Source: AG Scientific

Heart disease is sometimes caused by congenital heart defects and other conditions beyond anyone’s control, but in most cases, its prevention boils down to adopting a healthy lifestyle. Common things that make you highly susceptible to heart disease include: an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, smoking, stress, excessive use of caffeine and alcohol, drug abuse, and being overweight. If one or more of these elements characterize your life, and you experience foot problems, then you may have some form of heart disease. You will need to look out for:

Poor circulation

Heart disease normally involves clogged and hardened arteries that lead to poor blood circulation. You can pick up potential blood circulation problems from changes in your feet which include:

  • Cold feet and purplish toes: if you have ever tied any part of your body tightly you know that it will begin to turn purple and get cold because of the stemmed blood flow to that particular part of the body. Similarly, narrowed blood vessels restrict blood flow to the feet due to plaque buildup. When your feet do not get enough oxygenated blood, they will become cold and your toes will turn purplish or bluish
  • Bald toes: Hair is commonly found on the toes, although its thickness and density may vary according to things like gender and lifestyle. While the degree of hair present on the toes may vary, a complete absence of hair on the toes is normally an indicationthat you are not getting enough blood to your feet. If you suddenly notice a loss of hair on your toes, it is wise to get this checked

Additional indications of poor circulation include shiny and thin skin, swelling, pain and numbness, and a weak pulse in your feet.


Not only is clubbing linked to heart disease, but it is also associated with other lethal health conditions like lung infection, cancer, and intestinal disease.  Nail clubbing occurs when there is increased blood flow to the small arteries in the nails due to decreased vascular resistance – this results in the swelling of tissue and the clubbed appearance of the toes and fingers.

Changes in foot color

Besides the color changes that may occur due to poor blood circulation, any other color changes in your feet are a possible indication of endocarditis, a condition which is rarely found in people with healthy hearts. These changes in foot color may also be accompanied by small dark spots under the skin on your toes which are a possible signal of an underlying heart problem.

Your feet and stroke

Heart disease and stroke are closely associated because most of the factors that lead to preventable heart disease can also lead to stroke. It is not surprising then that the foot problems and changes you may experience due to potential heart diseases are also true for stroke. In addition, your feet may indicate hypothyroidism, a condition which is known to increase the likelihood of suffering from a stroke.

Feet can show you that your thyroid is not functioning well and indications of hypothyroidism include foot pain, swollen feet due to fluid retention, brittle nails, and dry, flaky skin (there is a high chance that it is not a lotion problem after all).

Stroke Prevalence

our world

Source: Our World in Data

Your feet can draw your attention to underlying health issues that you may have and it is vital to take note of any changes. The changes linked to your feet cannot be used as the ultimate diagnosis of heart disease or stroke, but they can show you that a doctor’s visit is necessary. Familiarize yourself with your feet and be on the lookout for any changes that could potentially be your saving grace.


4 thoughts on “The foot connection: a link that can save your life

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