This Morning's Dr Chris discusses the signs of high cholesterol
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High cholesterol is the predecessor of serious health problems, including heart disease and strokes. While there’s plenty you can do to keep your levels in check, you have to identify the culprit first. Although this is not often possible without a blood test, there’s one condition triggered by the fatty substance which might help give it away.
Leaving high cholesterol untreated can lead to atherosclerosis over time.
This process describes your arteries getting clogged with fatty substances, leading to narrowing.
And once your arteries become narrower, the blood flow to your legs also gets reduced, causing a condition called peripheral artery disease, or PAD for short.
This diagnosis can present with “painful” cramping in your hips, thighs or calf muscles, according to the Mayo Clinic.
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The health portal explains that this type of pain can be exacerbated by certain activities.
For example, walking or climbing the stairs could make it more obvious.
Furthermore, painful cramping might appear only in one or both hips, thighs and calves.
As PAD is caused by high levels of cholesterol in your bloodstream, experiencing the symptoms linked to peripheral artery disease could also draw attention to the fatty culprit.
Plus, painful cramping isn’t the only warning sign linked to PAD.
According to the Mayo Clinic, you might also experience symptoms such as:
- Leg numbness or weakness
- No pulse or a weak pulse in the legs or feet
- Shiny skin on the legs
- Skin colour changes on the legs
- Slower growth of the toenails
- Sores on the toes, feet or legs that won’t heal
- Pain when using the arms, such as aching and cramping when knitting, writing or doing other manual tasks
- Erectile dysfunction
- Hair loss or slower hair growth on the legs.
Pain is one of the key symptoms associated with PAD. Once the condition progresses, you might also experience aches when you are lying down.
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Fortunately, hanging your legs over the edge of the bed or walking may “temporarily” help ease the pain, the Mayo Clinic reports.
The NHS recommends seeing a doctor if you experience the symptoms of peripheral artery disease.
It notes: “If your symptoms develop quickly, or get suddenly worse, it could be a sign of a serious problem requiring immediate treatment.”
However, it’s important to remember that high cholesterol doesn’t usually show warning signs and PAD can be the same.
The most reliable way of finding out your levels is getting a blood test.
How to lower high cholesterol
While high cholesterol can be triggered by food, diet can also be the remedy.
When it comes to a cholesterol-busting diet, the key is cutting down on saturated fats, found in the likes of sausages, cheese, and butter, while upping your fibre intake.
However, other lifestyle tweaks like quitting smoking and reducing your alcohol intake might also be helpful.
In some cases, your doctor might order you to take medicine called statins to keep your levels in check and avoid further problems.
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