The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Loss of Sensation in Feet Linked to Stroke Risk

Posted by on Friday, August 29th, 2014

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About 25 million people have diabetes in the United States, according to the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society. Nervous system impairment, also called “neuropathy,” causes a loss of feeling in the hands and feet — a condition that affects about 60 to 70% of diabetics. Our NY podiatrists have long counseled patients with diabetes that foot health should be a top priority to avoid the development of nasty ulcers that can lead to amputation in some cases. However, new research from the University of St. George’s London speculates that neuropathy could indicate worse complications yet.
diabetic foot care
Diabetic foot care is important in preventing ulcers, amputations, strokes, and heart attacks. Image Source: DCACFulton.org

Life-Threatening Events Linked to Neuropathy

The research, published in the UK medical journal Heart this August, involved 13,000 patients with type 2 diabetes in England, and found that the loss of feeling in the feet is a good predictor of cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes.

Scientists studied 407 deaths from any cause and 399 non-fatal cardiovascular disease events. After adjusting for age, sex, ethnicity, systolic blood pressure, cholesterol, BMI, HbA1c, smoking status, and use of medication, peripheral neuropathy was associated with an increased risk of a cardiovascular event.

Loss of sensation in the extremities does not just suggest nerve damage, but circulation problems as well. Researchers concluded that testing for peripheral neuropathy annually is an easy clinical way to identify high-risk individuals who require more monitoring for cardiovascular health.

What Can Diabetics Do About Loss of Feeling in Feet?

You may feel hopeless and wonder what can be done if you have already lost sensation in your feet. “Greater control of risk factors including blood pressure and blood sugar can prevent or delay the onset of cardiovascular disease,” said Robert Hinchliffe, co-author of the study. The better a patient’s blood sugar is controlled, the less likely it is for the patient to suffer an adverse event in the near future, neuropathy or not. As we mentioned previously, prescription medications and over-the-counter topical treatments can also help manage neuropathy in the feet.

There is more you can control than you may think. According to the World Heart Federation:

– Controlling your blood glucose can reduce your risk of a cardiovascular disease event by 42%!

Controlling your blood lipids (cholesterol) can reduce your risk of a cardiovascular event between 20 and 50%.

– Smoking doubles the risk of cardiovascular disease if you have diabetes, so quitting can go a long way.

– Losing weight and maintaining a healthy diet will also improve your health.

Diabetic Foot Care in NYC

The Center For Podiatric Care & Sports Medicine treats diabetic patients who wish to lead active and fulfilling lives. We offer state-of-the-art technology, such as Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation and pulsed infrared light therapy, which improves the lives of diabetics suffering from severe pain in their feet. Cryosurgery is another treatment we offer patients who have been suffering from neuropathy pain for years. Skilled surgeons may even be able to physically repair some of the nerve damage in your feet. Our team of physical therapists, podiatrists, specialists, and podiatric surgeons will work alongside your primary care physician to find the best solutions to take care of your feet and decrease your risk of suffering an adverse cardiovascular event.

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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.