Three warning signs that your leg pain is caused by cholesterol

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

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High levels of cholesterol in your blood create the perfect storm for serious health problems, ranging from heart diseases to strokes. Therefore it’s crucial to identify the fatty substance and stamp it out. Fortunately, three warning signs could hold clues.

Leaving high levels of cholesterol to their own devices triggers plaque build-up in your arteries.

Plaques describe a pesky cocktail of fatty substances, cellular waste products, calcium, fibrin, as well as cholesterol.

Once your arteries house too much of this dangerous mixture, they become narrow and hard.

This creates less-than-ideal conditions for your blood flow, triggering the “first” symptom in your legs.

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The lack of blood flowing to your legs can sometimes spur on a “common” condition known as peripheral artery disease, or PAD for short, the Cleveland Clinic reports.

The “first symptom” triggered by PAD is claudication, which describes a muscle pain that can be identified by three tell-tale signs.

Dull and aching pain

From acute to chronic, pain can present in many uncomfortable forms but the pain from claudication is usually dull and aching. 

“It may also feel like your muscles are tiring out, or it can feel like a muscle spasm or cramp,” the health portal explains.

The pain crops up with activity

In the beginning, pain caused by claudication isn’t consistent. It only appears when you move.

The more effort or activity you do, the worse the pain will feel. 

Furthermore, once you stop to rest, the pain should cease within a few minutes, or even less.

It strikes in muscles not joints

Another key sign of claudication is that it only affects muscles, meaning it doesn’t cause joint and bone pain. 

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“If the pain is in one or more joints or lasts for several minutes after you stop to rest, it’s more likely that this is not intermittent claudication,” the Cleveland Clinic adds.

Apart from pain in your legs, PAD can eventually cause other symptoms, 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, PAD doesn’t always cause many noticeable symptoms which makes it hard to identify, just like high cholesterol.

This means that the most reliable way of detecting cholesterol levels is through a blood test.

Once your doctor confirms this condition, there’s plenty you can do to retrieve your levels from the danger zone, ranging from a healthy diet to cholesterol-busting medicine called statins.

A cholesterol-lowering diet focuses on reducing your intake of saturated fats. But increasing your intake of soluble fibre could also help lower your levels.

Other helpful lifestyle tweaks include cutting back on alcohol, quitting smoking and picking up exercise.

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