High cholesterol symptoms: The sign when you walk that ‘requires quick reaction’ – expert

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

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High cholesterol details a build-up of a waxy substance called cholesterol in your arteries. What’s worse, this accumulation can lead to serious health problems, ranging from heart diseases to strokes. While there’s plenty you can do to retrieve your levels from the danger zone, you need to identify them first. An expert shares one sign in your walk that might help.

According to Monika Wassermann, Medical Director at Olio Lusso, experiencing pain when you walk could hold clues.

Ms Wassermann said: “Do your legs ache when walking? Perhaps they are strained and hardly corporate in your physical endeavours?

“Well, they are probably complaining because you sat for longer and want to engage them.

“[However], the pain could be due to clogged arteries that hinder sufficient blood supply to the legs.

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“That may suggest having high cholesterol in the body, and requires a quick reaction.”

What Ms Wassermann described is also a condition known as peripheral arterial disease (PAD).

Triggered by a build-up of fatty deposits in your arteries, PAD could strike in your legs.

The pain associated with the condition can range from mild to severe.

The NHS also notes that it usually goes away after a few minutes when you rest your legs.

While both of your legs might be affected, the pain tends to be worse in one of them.

Although pain might ring the alarm bells, there are also other symptoms of PAD to be aware of.

The health service explains that warning signs might include:

  • 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.

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What’s worse, these symptoms usually take a long time to develop, making them difficult to spot.

Ms Wassermann added: “If you notice any of the above signs, I usually advise my clients to consider getting tested.

“High cholesterol levels may not come with symptoms at the beginning. Therefore, testing for the numbers is significant.

“Some people are slim and great looking health-wise, but their cholesterol is unhealthy.”

As Ms Wassermann suggested, high cholesterol doesn’t often pose many warning signs.

The most reliable way of finding out your levels is through a blood test. Your doctor will either take blood from your arm or do a finger-prick test.

However, the NHS warns that if symptoms of PAD develop quickly, it could be pointing to a serious problem that requires “immediate treatment”.

How to lower cholesterol

From lifestyle tweaks to medicine, there’s plenty you can do to get your levels to drop.

A cholesterol-lowering diet focuses on cutting down on saturated fat – think sausages, cheese and biscuits.

Other lifestyle changes that can benefit your levels include exercise, quitting smoking and cutting back on alcohol.

However, some people will need to take a medication called statins to keep their levels in check.

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