Claudication could be the first noticeable symptom of high cholesterol

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

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Dubbed the silent killer, cholesterol can silently roam through your arteries, spurring on serious health problems like heart disease and strokes. However, one tell-tale sign of cholesterol build-up can sometimes strike down in your legs. Here’s how to spot the sign known as claudication.

High levels of “bad” cholesterol, also known as LDL, lay the groundwork for a build-up of plaque in your arteries.

Characterised as waxy, plaque is a mix of the fatty substance and other things, according to a health portal Saint Luke’s.

“When you have too much plaque, your arteries can become narrowed and limit blood flow,” Saint Luke’s explains.

Narrow arteries like this trigger the “first noticeable” sign of a cholesterol build-up known as claudication.

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Once your arteries constrict, your legs are the next to take the hit, leading to a “common” condition known as peripheral artery disease (PAD), the Cleveland Clinic explains.

And PAD triggers the “first noticeable” symptom known as intermittent claudication.

This red flag describes leg discomfort, pain or cramping, according to the health portal.

While leg pain could be triggered by various reasons, ranging from injury to extensive exercise, claudication can be recognised by certain tell-tale signs.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, this type of achiness and discomfort:

  • Develops with activity.
  • Goes away with rest.
  • Comes back when you resume activity.

Furthermore, claudication may also cause your muscles to feel numb, weak, heavy and tired.

However, this pain doesn’t only strike down in your leg as it can also travel all the way to your buttocks.

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The Cleveland Clinic shares: “You may notice the pain in your calf, but you may also feel it in your buttocks or thighs.

“The pain can be severe enough to limit your ability to participate in activities you enjoy, such as golfing or chasing after grandchildren.”

Apart from pain in legs, PAD can also cause other warning 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.

While claudication could be the first sign of cholesterol dangerously clogging your arteries, PAD doesn’t always trigger symptoms, similarly to high cholesterol.

That’s why having your blood tested remains the most reliable way of determining your cholesterol levels.

The doctor will either draw blood from your arm or do a finger-prick test, the NHS explains.

The good news is there are various means of retrieving cholesterol levels from the danger zone once you get diagnosed, whether it’s lifestyle changes like diet or a medication called statins.

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