What your ankles say about Your Heart

No, they don’t shout from the rooftop or send messages, but these little old skinny things can speak volumes.  If you’ll look at them you may notice a thing or two. They may be swollen. Or, your feet, ankles, and calves may be swollen and your feet may be a bit sore.

Remember when we spoke of congestive heart failure (CHF)? Well, in CHF, for several reasons, the heart loses its ability to be an effective pump, a pump that needs to be strong enough to send blood from the arms and legs back to the heart. There are a series of valves responsible for doing this, but the heart gives this fluid a good head start, with every beat and pump.

When fluid gets down to the ankles and has trouble getting back to the heart, it pools wherever it is, in most cases this is in the ankles, foot or calf area. This is called edema and you can see it clearly enough in the picture above. That foot doesn’t look normal and even the toes look disproportionately smaller. The foot is puffy and the calf doesn’t look normal in the least. You ought to see your doctor if this happens but there are a few things you can do at home while you’re waiting for the appointment. However, if you are short of breath you ought to call the doctor’s office or 911, This is a medical emergency. movement:part of your body affected by edema, especially your legs, may help pump the excess fluid back toward your heart. Ask your doctor about exercises you can do that may reduce swelling.



What do they do? They keep you in the bathroom all day; that’s what they do and I don’t like that! If my life is going to be run by anyone, or anything, it is going to be me; not a little pill that I’m supposed to take daily.

“Hmmm, swollen ankles often represent the buildup of fluid in the body; in this case congestive heart failure. (CHF). In CHF, of several things that happen to the heart, it loses its ability to act as an effective pump. The calves or even thighs might also become swollen and the abdomen may become distended. When you press your finger and let go, a mark stays there for a few seconds. In severe cases, this fluid might surround the lungs. This can present as a medical emergency,

  • Movement. Moving and using the muscles in the part of your body affected by edema, especially your legs, may help pump the excess fluid back toward your heart. Ask your doctor about exercises you can do that may reduce swelling.
  • Elevation. Hold the swollen part of your body above the level of your heart several times a day. In some cases, elevating the affected body part while you sleep may be helpful.
  • Massage. Stroking the affected area toward your heart using firm, but not painful, pressure may help move the excess fluid out of that area.
  • Compression. If one of your limbs is affected by edema, your doctor may recommend you wear compression stockings, sleeves or gloves, usually worn after your swelling has gone down, to prevent further swelling from occurring. These garments keep pressure on your limbs to prevent fluid from collecting in the tissue.
  • Protection. Keep the affected area clean, moisturized and free from injury. Dry, cracked skin is more prone to scrapes, cuts and infection. Always wear protection on your feet if that’s where the swelling typically occurs.
  • Reduce salt intake. Follow your doctor’s suggestions about limiting how much salt you consume. Salt can increase fluid retention and worsen edema.




Diuretics are used to treat the buildup of excess fluid in the body that occurs with some medical conditions such as congestive heart failure, liver disease, and kidney disease. Some diuretics are also prescribed to treat high blood pressure. These drugs act on the kidneys to increase urine output.


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