Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Does Smoking Hurt Your Foot?

We all know that smoking is bad for the health and that it kills thousands of people each year in this country alone. Lung cancer, cardiac disease, strokes and other frightening health problems are all associated with smoking. What is often not appreciated is that while smoking does have these high profile implications, there are also other health problems it can cause that are very serious in their own way. Among them is the effect of smoking on the feet.

From Your Heart To Your Feet – A Long Distance

Your feet are among the most used and least cared for parts of the body. Walking is not an activity that requires thought and so we take our feet for granted. But they carry the entire weight of our bodies, day in and day out and over time, cover thousands of miles. Like all parts of the body, the feet depend on proper blood circulation to keep them nourished and provide them with energy. The circulation is also crucial in the recovery from injuries to the feet. But the heart is a long way from the feet and so even in the best circumstances they are at the end of the supply chain. When you smoke your heart and its ability to circulate blood are affected and the feet that are already at the end of the line suffer even more. One of the most common effects of smoking on the feet is the development of Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) which is often caused by smoking and which affects about 8 million Americans.

Understanding PAD

With PAD, layers of plaque build up in the arteries and one of the most affected places are the arteries that run down the full length of the legs to the feet. The plaque causes the arteries to become stiff and clogged, restricting the flow of blood. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) PAD often results in pain in the legs and feet while walking and injuries that heal slowly. But often PAD does not show itself in any obvious manner.

People with PAD have a 500% greater chance of dying from health problems resulting from cardiovascular disease and over 600% greater chances of dying from coronary heart disease. With people who smoke, the chances of PAD developing is 400% greater than with those who do not smoke. Additionally, the NIH says that smokers who get this sickness will get it 10 years earlier than if they did not smoke. And for those with diabetes which is already affecting the nerves in the feet and causing problems of sores and injuries that are very painful and heal very slowly, smoking will only act to exacerbate the conditions.

Other Problems

Smoking is known to increase the effects of osteoporosis which affects the growth, healing and strength of the bones in the body. With the feet bearing the load they do every day and being made to undergo a large amount of wear and tear because of misuse, the strength of the bones in the feet is critical to their functioning. When smoking works to weaken the bones here, the chances of suffering serious foot injury involving fractures increases greatly as does the difficulty in recovering from such injuries.

Those who smoke are risking their health and their lives in ways that they cannot even imagine. If the feet can be affected by smoking, no part of the body is immune for damage. If you are a smoker, check your feet carefully. The problems that you find may be the signs of serious health problems and the earlier you stop smoking the better for you body.

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