Smoking has many health problems associated with it. The effect that smoking has on blood flow control, tissue healing, and overall tissue health in the foot cannot be understated. Smoking has a very negative effect on the size of the blood vessels entering the foot and within the foot. This effect means that vital oxygen and nutrients cannot get to the tissue as easily in the foot, and this can lead to poor skin and tissue health, foot wounds, and even pain.
When combined with poor circulation already present because of other factors, such as obesity, high cholesterol, and genetic risk, the immediate risk to the health of the foot is severe. Diabetes and smoking are even risk factors themselves for poor circulation in the legs. When you combine all three of these, you have foot and leg tissue that is more likely to get injured, stay injured due to poor healing, and become gangrenous. Diabetics who smoke and have poor circulation are far more likely to lose their foot or leg due to infection, gangrene, or other serious skin and tissue disease from simple causes like a scratch, scrape, or thick broken callus. Leg pain from the combination of these conditions can be unbearable at times, with little relief available from medication. The risk of death within 5 years after an amputation due to these conditions is higher than many forms of cancer.
All of this can be prevented, however, by doing a few things:
- Keep blood sugar under control.
- Stop smoking.
- Get a simple noninvasive circulation test to see if there is a problem with blood flow in the legs.
If you are diabetic, smoke, and are at risk for poor circulation, you owe it to yourself to protect your legs and your life. Make the decision to be healthier today.
Until next time,
Scott R. Kilberg DPM
Podiatrist in Fishers, Indianapolis, and Noblesville Indiana