Take Your Socks Off!
In these colder months of winter it feels good to wrap up, put on some warm fuzzy socks and sit by a nice fire sipping a hot drink. It’s not typically the time of year to think about taking off your socks, but maybe you should.
The Center for Disease Control estimates there are over eight million people in the U.S. affected by peripheral artery disease (PAD). Out of these, three out of four of them don’t even know they have this disease. If PAD is not caught early it can lead to more serious health problems like heart disease, stroke, or heart attack.
Sometimes it’s easier to pretend there isn’t a problem rather than facing it head on. However, the truth is that PAD, if caught early, could be treated with simple steps like changing some of your eating habits or beginning a walking program consisting of 30 minutes a day two or three times a week.
The best way for your provider to catch PAD early is to let her know if you experience hip or leg pain while you’re walking, climbing stairs, or exercising. Sometimes this pain will go away a few minutes after you stop your activity, but either way, you should say something to your provider. Also, if you have wounds on your toes or feet that aren’t healing or if your toenails aren’t growing like they used to you should mention that to your provider as well.
Being tested for PAD is something that some primary care providers can do while you are in their exam room. Your PCP may do a test called Ankle-Brachial Index (ABI), which just means she is going to compare the blood pressure in your feet to the blood pressure in your arms. If the ABI shows numbers that concern your provider there are other tests like ultrasound, CT, or MRA, which may be done in order for the provider to diagnose PAD. None of these tests hurt and most of them take just a little bit of time.
Next time you have a doctor’s appointment ask her to check your feet and legs for symptoms of PAD. You’re better off catching it early than waiting until more severe symptoms develop. And, while it’s nice to stay warm and toasty on these cold winter days, don’t let the weather keep you from taking your socks off!