Atlanta, GA September 7-Edema to the feet and ankles have been attributed to signs and symptoms of cardiovascular malfunction or disease. True this may be an indicator of Congestive Heart Failure. But this may also be a sign or symptom for other contributors to heart disease as a secondary diagnosis (McPhee & Papadakis, 2010).
Several of these diagnosis may only be vascular in nature such as vasculitis, cellulitis, peripheral artery disease, or disorders related to metabolic syndrome which may have caused blockage or constriction of the portal veins and hepatic veins and arteries during digestion, absorption, and enzymatic breakdown of foodstuffs subject to beta cells of the islet of Langerhans overstimulation (McPhee & Papadakis, 2010).
In cases where there is pulmonary insufficiency, edema remains a sign or symptom of anomalies presenting within the multicellular system. More often, this is related to pulmary stenosis, a narrowing of the pulmonary artery which inhibits blood supply to the lungs and an increased in blood volume in the right cardiac ventricles as manifested by fluid in the lungs on radiographs or enlargements of the myocardium (Jarvis, 2002).
Mild edema can be resolved with an increase in fluids, exercise, and dietary restrictions specific to sodium. Most of the mild or severe (i.e. pitting) edema may be attributed to fluid overload or sodium retention within the interstital cells during chemical exchanges of action potentials causing fluid to leak out via the capillaries, taken up by lymphatic system, to the superior and inferior vena cava and then to the right atrium of the heart to signal the conduction system, for example, sinoatrial node, atrioventricular node, bundles of HIS, right and left bundles, & purkinje fibers (McPhee & Papadakis, 2010).
In less extreme cases which are the least common side effects, medications like antihistamines may contribute to edema signs or symptoms. But more often than not, edema is related to heart disease, vascular disease, blockages of arteries, or pulmonary insufficiency from risk factors such as obesity according to Healthy People 2010 initiative (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2001). However in some cases, the situation may be age related (i.e. senile purpura) changes to subcutaneous tissues (McPhee & Papadakis, 2010).
Should you or someone you know encounter edema as a “new” sign or a continuous symptom of a undiagnosed metabolic syndrome, specifically if there are disproportions in height and weight, please see your internist for an examination.
As always, Be Heart Smart for the Love in It.
Jarvis, C. (2002). Physical Examination and Health Assessment. Saunders.
McPhee, S., & Papadakis, M. (2010). Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment: Lange. McGraw-Hill.
United States Department of Health and Human Services. (2001). Healthy People 2010. Overweight and Obesity.