Dr. Mangalpally has left the practice as of 10/1/2023 and will no longer be seeing Prime Heart and Vascular patients.  Please let our staff know if you would like a copy of your medical records of would like them transferred elsewhere.
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What Your Swelling Feet and Ankles May Be Telling You

What Your Swelling Feet and Ankles May Be Telling You

Swelling in the feet and ankles is a relatively common problem, especially among older women and men. Though it might not seem like a serious issue (especially if there’s no pain), swelling in your extremities can be a sign of underlying medical problems that can lead to significant complications without prompt treatment. 

At Prime Heart and Vascular, Rishin Shah, MD, and Ashley Cooksey, NP, provide patient-centered care focused on diagnosing the cause of symptoms like swelling, helping every patient receive the individualized care they need for optimal outcomes. In this post, learn why feet and ankle swelling happens and what those symptoms might be saying about your health.

Quick facts about edema

Edema is the medical term for swelling, and it usually happens as a result of an abnormal buildup of fluid. About 60% of your body is composed of fluid. These fluids perform lots of functions, delivering nutrients, removing wastes, regulating your body temperature, and even protecting your organs and other structures.

A lot of fluid is contained inside your cells and your blood vessels. However, you also have fluid outside these spaces in what’s called the interstitial space. Edema occurs when excess fluids build up in the interstitial space.

Because the interstitial space is “elastic” in its nature, fluid can build up for some time without causing noticeable symptoms. In fact, research shows that in some people, the interstitial space can expand by two to three liters of built-up fluid before symptoms become evident.

What swelling means

Sometimes called peripheral edema, swelling in the lower extremities can have lots of different causes. Sometimes, those causes are temporary or relatively benign, like the swelling that often happens in the third trimester of pregnancy. 

 

Other times, peripheral edema is related to underlying medical problems. Kidney disease and liver disease can both cause peripheral edema, and so can problems with your heart and blood vessels.

Cardiovascular causes of edema

As a leading cardiology practice, Prime Heart and Vascular specializes in treating cardiovascular-related causes of edema, including heart failure, chronic venous insufficiency, peripheral artery disease, cardiomyopathy, and high blood pressure (hypertension).

Heart failure

Heart failure happens when your heart is unable to pump blood as efficiently as it should. As a result, fluid builds up — particularly your feet and legs, but also in your hands and arms and other areas, too. 

Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI)

CVI happens when your veins aren’t able to return blood to your heart efficiently. Varicose veins can be a symptom of CVI, but because venous insufficiency involves your deeper veins, you can have CVI even if you don’t have visible varicose veins.

Peripheral artery disease (PAD)

PAD happens when arteries in your limbs become blocked or narrowed, usually as a result of atherosclerosis or “hardening” of the arteries. Swelling is a common symptom of PAD, and so are other symptoms, like leg pain or cramps, particularly after physical activity.

Cardiomyopathy

Cardiomyopathy is a catchall term that includes any type of disease, infection, or other ailment that affects the heart’s ability to pump blood. Cardiomyopathy most often refers to conditions that affect the heart muscle activity, but it can affect the valves, too.

Hypertension

Hypertension is associated with elevated pressure inside your arteries. Over time, hypertension damages blood vessels, impairing normal blood flow and leading to swelling on your feet and ankles.

Don’t ignore swelling

For some people, swelling is the first indication they have of underlying heart disease. Having peripheral swelling evaluated early helps ensure you receive the most appropriate care based on the underlying cause of your symptoms.


Our team determines the cause of peripheral edema using state-of-the-art diagnostic methods, including swelling caused by liver or kidney disease, as well as cardiovascular conditions. To find out what’s causing your swelling, request an appointment online or over the phone with the team at Prime Heart and Vascular in Allen, Frisco, or Plano, Texas, today.

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