four sets of feet wearing bright and bold compression socks

Compression Socks – You Can Still Be Stylish

The inspiration for this article came from watching a rerun of Sex and the City, the one showing Carrie struggling for content, so she started writing about socks, comparing men to socks. While she struggled with sock content, I thought, hmm, I had something to say about socks, and a lot to say about compression socks, a now essential part of my heart failure wardrobe.

Rising blood pressure is normal

Right after my heart attack, I was suffering from extreme fatigue and weakness, even to the point of passing out, especially after a workout. I started to read up on vitals and how they should respond to exercise. For my condition, my blood pressure should rise with an exercise-induced increased heart rate. As they tracked my blood pressure at my max heart rate on the treadmill, my blood pressure was dropping and continued to for the rest of the day.

I couldn't take it anymore

A nurse I didn’t get along with barked to me, in her roughest Boston accent, “you need to wear sappart stahkings.” Of note – this was a personality clash, and I got along famously with all the other people in cardiac rehab.

More on this topic

That night I cried; I was mortified. It was summer, and now I had to wear white transparent stockings all the time? Two months prior, I thought I was in excellent health. Now I have stents, the lifevest, talk of a pacemaker and have to add in “sapport stahkings”. I was only 42, and I couldn’t take it anymore.

More energy during the day

Luckily, I had an appointment with my cardiologist the following week. She explained that support stockings would keep my blood pressure from dropping. I was confused – this seemed counterintuitive, don’t I want to keep my blood pressure low and keep it from rising? She explained that working out, in addition to my medication, acted to reduce my blood pressure, sometimes lower than I could physically manage. The socks would prevent my blood pressure from dropping even lower by helping aid the return of the venous blood in my legs. They would also give me more energy during the day.

This isn't so bad

I then told her I was overwhelmed; I was too young for this on top of recovering from a heart attack. I couldn’t do it. She then told me that athletes wear these socks for the same reasons. I could look for “athletic compression socks” instead. I left her office and went shopping, pretending to be an athlete and not a heart failure patient. I found some hot pink ones and pranced around. Ok – this isn’t so bad.

Stylish while sensible

You can find reasonably priced compression socks online and in stores. Dr. Motion is sold at TJ Maxx and Marshalls. I have argyles, polka dot and now ones with little cats. Bombas has fun ones as well. Amazon also has great deals as well for bulk buying. Santa, a.k.a my mother in law, now leaves pairs under the tree for me.

If you are over fatigued or feeling weak during the day or after exercising, ask your cardiologist about using compression socks to both combats falling blood pressure and increase your energy levels. Not everyone can wear them, so it’s important to talk about this with your care team. And if they tell you that you should wear support stockings, take a look at compression socks, which are the same thing. You can still be stylish while sensible.

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