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Warm toes keep the blood flowing

Monday, 19th August, 2013

Aruma Lodge resident Cecil Gourlay has diabetes and makes sure he keeps his feet warm with thick socks. Aruma Lodge resident Cecil Gourlay has diabetes and makes sure he keeps his feet warm with thick socks.

People with diabetes or circulation problems need to keep a close eye on the blood flow in their feet during the last few weeks of winter, according to experts.

 Sylvia McAra, a podiatry lecturer with Charles Sturt University’s School of Community Health, said often older people may lose the ability to feel cold and experience a drop in blood pressure in their feet. 

“They may not be aware that they are not protecting their feet from the effects of cold because their sensation is reduced,” Ms McAra said.

Ms McAra is conducting research into the blood supply to the toes. A hundred or more people from Albury-Wodonga have been taking part for six months over two years to see how falling winter temperatures affect blood supply to the feet. 

“Good blood supply to the feet of this group is very important as they are at risk of foot ulcers and amputation due to complications of their disease.”

Karen Brewster, Diabetes Educator, Broken Hill Health Service said it was important to take care of your feet.

“The feet of a person with diabetes are at risk of injury due to a combination of small and large blood vessel disease and nerve damage,” Ms Brewster said.

“Arteries become narrow, therefore blood supply is decreased and nerves stop working properly so pain messages no longer get through to the brain.” 

She said shoes that fit well were a big help.

“It is important to make sure footwear fits well and does not rub and also to make sure socks do not restrict the circulation in the person’s legs,” Ms Brewster said.

“It is also important for the person to keep their blood glucose, cholesterol and blood pressure as close to the target their GP has set as is possible and to quit smoking,” she said.

“The particular issues of insensitivity to pain, heat and cold and also slow healing problems make foot care extremely important for people with diabetes.”

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