This Morning's Dr Chris discusses the signs of high cholesterol
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High cholesterol might be quiet but its presence can lay the groundwork for a slew of complications, ranging from heart disease to stroke. While the fatty culprit rarely shows symptoms, warning signs can appear once cholesterol starts clogging your arteries. One tell-tale sign of this process can present as four unpleasant sensations.
Leaving high cholesterol to its own devices can promote plaque build-up in your arteries.
Apart from cholesterol, plaques are a mix of fatty substances, cellular waste products, calcium as well as fibrin.
Once your arteries house too much of this dangerous cocktail, they become hard and stiff.
This creates less-than-ideal conditions for your blood flow and your legs can take the hit, triggering the “first noticeable” sign.
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This lack of blood flow in your legs can sometimes spur on a “common” condition known as peripheral artery disease (PAD), according to the Cleveland Clinic.
The “first noticeable symptom” triggered by PAD is leg discomfort, pain or cramping.
However, this condition can also trigger four warning sensations in your leg muscles.
According to the health portal, your leg muscles may start feeling:
The tell-tale sign of PAD leg pain is that it only develops once you walk or exercise.
However, the painful sign disappears after a few minutes when you rest up.
The NHS reports: “The pain can range from mild to severe, and usually goes away after a few minutes when you rest your legs.
“Both legs are often affected at the same time, although the pain may be worse in one leg.”
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The Cleveland Clinic explains that this warning sign can be severe enough to stop you from participating in your usual daily activities, such as “golfing or chasing after grandchildren”.
Apart from weakness, numbness, heaviness and tiredness in your legs, PAD can also lead to other tell-tale signs, including:
- A burning or aching pain in your feet and toes while resting, especially at night while lying flat
- Cool skin on your feet
- Redness or other colour changes of your skin
- More frequent infections
- Toe and foot sores that don’t heal.
Unfortunately, peripheral artery disease doesn’t always cause many noticeable symptoms which makes the condition hard to pick up – similarly to high cholesterol.
Tris tricky nature makes a blood test the most reliable way of determining high cholesterol levels.
Once you get the condition confirmed, there’s plenty you can do to retrieve your levels from the red zone, ranging from a healthy diet to cholesterol-busting medicine called statins.
A cholesterol-lowering food regime requires cutting back on saturated fats – think cheese, butter, sausages and biscuits. However, upping your intake of soluble fibre could also help lower the culprit.
Other helpful lifestyle tweaks include cutting back on alcohol, quitting smoking and picking up exercising.
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