High cholesterol: Sign to watch out for when walking – could require ‘immediate treatment’

This Morning's Dr Chris discusses the signs of high cholesterol

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High cholesterol can silently build up in your arteries triggering health issues, ranging from heart disease to strokes. Although the waxy substance doesn’t often draw attention to itself, one area that could ring alarm bells is your legs.

Having high levels of “bad” cholesterol promotes plaque build-up in your arteries, explains a health portal Saint Luke’s.

It states: “Plaque is a waxy material made up of cholesterol and other things.

“When you have too much plaque, your arteries can become narrowed and limit blood flow.”

Once your arteries start narrowing and blood flow gets restricted, your legs can also take the hit, triggering the warning sign.

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The lack of blood flow to your legs can sometimes lead to a condition known as peripheral artery disease (PAD).

The NHS explains that this “common” condition can trigger pain when you walk.

The health service shares that you can develop a “painful ache” when you are standing and walking about.

The pain is characterised by disappearing after a few minutes of resting.

It adds: “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.”

Apart from pain in your leg, PAD can also present with other symptoms, including:

  • Hair loss on your legs and feet
  • Numbness or weakness in the legs
  • Brittle, slow-growing toenails 
  • Ulcers (open sores) on your feet and legs, which do not heal
  • Changing skin colour on your legs, such as turning pale or blue
  • Shiny skin 
  • The muscles in your legs shrinking (wasting).

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The NHS notes that sometimes PAD symptoms could be a sign of a “serious” issue that requires an “immediate treatment”.

That’s why the health service recommends seeing a GP if you experience leg pain when exercising.

What’s worse, this condition might have no symptoms which can make it difficult to spot.

Although PAD might ring the alarm bells, high cholesterol is considered to be a silent condition so the most reliable way of knowing your levels remains getting a blood test.

How to lower high cholesterol

From lifestyle tweaks to medication, there are different measures for retrieving your cholesterol from the red zone.

For instance, a cholesterol-busting diet focuses on cutting down on saturated fat – think sausages, biscuits, and cheese.

Other lifestyle changes like exercise, quitting smoking and drinking less alcohol, could also help.

However, some patients might need to take a medication called statins to prevent further complications and get their levels under control.

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