New research suggests that atrial fibrillation may be able to be detected through a simple foot test, making it easier for high-risk patients to catch the condition before it can cause serious health issues.
Atrial fibrillation is a heart condition categorized by an irregular heartbeat, and left untreated it can lead to blood clots, strokes and heart disease. The rhythm disorder is also at least twice as likely to occur in diabetics compared to non-diabetics, so that’s the patient population that researchers decided to examine for their study.
Diabetic Foot Study
For the study, eight medical experts were trained to spot heart rhythm abnormalities during pulse palpitation of the foot arteries when conducting foot examinations on diabetic patients. They were also shown how to confirm their suspicions using a handheld Doppler ultrasound device. 300 patients with diabetes were tested during their annual foot screening appointments over a period of 12 months. Those who had pulse abnormalities underwent Doppler ultrasound to verify observations.
After looking at the results, the foot experts were able to catch a number of previously undiagnosed cases of atrial fibrillation. In all, 51 of the 300 patients were found to have a previously undiagnosed heart rhythm disorder.
“In our study, one in six patients with diabetes had previously undiagnosed atrial fibrillation,” said Ilias Kanellos, MD, MSc, in a press release. “This presents an opportunity to provide treatment to prevent subsequent strokes.”
It’s amazing that a simple pulse check in the foot during an annual screening exam can catch and help prevent a health issue that proves fatal for tens of thousands of people each year. Ask your doctor or foot specialist if they suspect any abnormalities during your annual foot screening if you have diabetes so that you can help treat a small issue before it causes major health problems.
And for more tips on how to effectively manage your diabetic feet, check out some of these pages we put together on the subject! For more information or for help with your foot condition, reach out to Dr. Silverman and the team at Silverman Ankle & Foot today.