Cholesterol is not a bad or a harmful substance as opposed to popular belief. In fact, your body needs cholesterol to build healthy cells. But if your body has high levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL), also known as ‘bad’ cholesterol, it can increase your risk of heart disease. The fatty deposits can build up on the walls of the arteries, making it difficult for blood to flow. Sometimes, these deposits can suddenly break and form a clot, increasing a person’s risk of a heart attack or a stroke.
Beware of PAD (Peripheral Artery Disease)
Peripheral artery disease is a condition caused due to narrowed arteries as a result of plaque build-up. This can lead to reduced blood flow to the lower part of the body including the legs and the feet. A person suffering from PAD does not get enough blood in the legs or arms (usually legs), causing leg pain when walking. This is also known as ‘claudication’. If not treated on time, the condition can cause serious complications such as critical limb ischemia and acute limb ischemia, which are an advanced form of peripheral arterial disease (PAD) affecting blood flow in the extremities.
Here are a few signs of high cholesterol you should look out for
1. Numbness and swelling
One may experience changes in the colour of the legs and feet as PAD limits blood flow. If left untreated, your legs can start turning pale or blue and cause a painful ache while walking. This pain may subside with a few minutes of resting. According to the Mayo Clinic, coldness, numbness and weakness in the lower leg or foot, especially when compared with the other foot, can be a sign of high cholesterol.
2. Skin problems
Fatty deposits can build up in the skin if there is too much cholesterol in the blood. This can cause rash-like lesions which can be characterized by orangish or yellowish bumps filled with fat in areas like corner of your eyes, lines on your palms, or the backs of your lower legs.
3. Changes in Nails
Excess plaque deposits can narrow down the arteries and limit blood flow to various parts of the body, including the nails. As a result, your nails can develop dark thin reddish-brown lines under your nails, which are sometimes referred to as splinter haemorrhages.
4. Yellow bumps around the eyes
Xanthelasma, or xanthelasma palpebrarum (XP) is a benign yellow growth that appears on or by the corners of the eyelids, next to the nose due to cholesterol deposits build up. However, other conditions including diabetes, hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol) and thyroid problems can also cause xanthelasmas.
What should you do if you see such symptoms?
The warning signs of high cholesterol is so subtle that people often miss them. The signs overlap several other mild diseases which is another reason why high cholesterol remains undetected for a longer time.
Hence, it is advisable to check the cholesterol level on a regular basis and take medications, if necessary, without any hesitation.
Remember healthy lifestyle and physical activity will keep high cholesterol at bay.