A Man's Blue Toes Spark a Puzzling Medical Mystery

Poor circulation can come from a lot of things — some more deadly than others.

“My papa’s toes are blue.”

The stylishly dressed woman squared her shoulders to hold my gaze. Three others — two sisters plus mom, I guessed — completed the entourage. A 70-year-old man lying on the stretcher had the wan but well-cared-for look of a convalescent used to letting his daughters do the talking. 

“He had a heart attack a month ago,” the lead daughter continued. “Two stents. Doing OK until a week ago. The feet started aching. The tips of his toes turned blue. We turned up the heat and put on thick socks, but it’s only gotten worse.”

I turned my attention to her father. “Hello, Mr. Mendez. May I take off your socks?” I asked.

He nodded. 


The full text of this article is available to Discover Magazine subscribers only.

Subscribe and get 10 issues packed with:
  • The latest news, theories and developments in the world of science
  • Compelling stories and breakthroughs in health, medicine and the mind
  • Environmental issues and their relevance to daily life
  • Cutting-edge technology and its impact on our future
Already a subscriber? Register now!
Registration is FREE and takes only a few seconds to complete. If you are already registered on DiscoverMagazine.com, please log in.