Blocked blood vessels
Smoking often leads to peripheral vascular disease, also known as PVD. Heavy smokers, in particular, must be aware of this condition, which occurs when the blood vessels in your extremities are blocked due to fatty material on the walls of your arteries. Several factors increase this fatty material, including nicotine consumption.
With PVD, your legs may feel heavy and difficult to move. You will experience pain in your arms and legs, particularly when exercising or doing strenuous activities like heavy lifting. Over time, sores, ulcers, and cool patches of skin can develop on your legs and feet. You may also notice significant temperature changes in your feet. Your toenails may become discolored and brittle, and foot injuries may not heal properly. Over time, PVD can become severe enough to cause gangrene, which sometimes warrants foot or digit amputation.
Buerger’s disease may be rarer than PVD, but this condition is more severe. It blocks blood vessels, but over time, Buerger’s disease can cause the death of tissue in the feet and legs. It also causes blood clots that can lead to other problems, such as strokes. Your skin may turn unusually red or blue, and you may notice significant skin changes that look like ulcers. There is no cure for this disease; amputation may not stop it from spreading. Symptom management is the best thing doctors and podiatrists can currently help you with.
Your feet are the furthest body part from your heart, meaning they do not receive much circulation under the best of circumstances. Smoking increases your chances of developing heart problems, not only from a cardio standpoint but from an extremity standpoint. As you smoke, your heart has to pump blood harder and faster to reach your extremities. This strains the heart and increases the chance you’ll need extensive surgery and other procedures. It also increases your chance of having a heart attack.
Increased risk of injury
When you smoke, your muscles rapidly deteriorate. Additionally, it becomes harder for your body to rejuvenate muscle as it should. As a result, your risk for muscle strains, sprains, and other injuries increases. Smoking increases your risk of fractures; nicotine and other cigarette ingredients destroy bone tissue.
Do you smoke and need help managing and improving your foot health? The podiatrists at Kansas City Foot Specialists can determine the source of your problem and recommend treatments that can get you back on your feet. Call us at (913) 338-4440 or contact us online to learn more about how to improve your foot health.