High cholesterol warning signs in your feet, legs and arms that could lead to amputation

High cholesterol is an insidious and common condition that makes up a number of potentially life-threatening outcomes. It is often symptomless, but warnings may be felt on your arms, legs and feet

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

High cholesterol may be a condition that many people give little thought about until it is too late.

Having high cholesterol is the precursor for serious and potentially life-threatening conditions, such as coronary heart disease, stroke, peripheral arterial disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

According to the National Institutes of Health, age is a major risk factor for the condition, however, anyone leading an unhealthy lifestyle or has a history of high cholesterol in their family are at an added risk.

The only way to know for sure if you are at risk is to have a blood test, but feeling unusual sensations in your feet, legs and arms could indicate risk and if ignored could potentially lead to amputation.

So what symptoms of high cholesterol do you need to look out for?

Pain in the legs is a symptom of high cholesterol and peripheral artery disease, which could lead to amputation if ignored


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Peripheral artery disease

When cholesterol accumulates in the blood vessels it can cause clogging, which results in pain felt on the body.

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) is a condition that eventually develops if corrective actions aren’t taken.

When PAD occurs, pain and discomfort is felt on the hands and feet affecting everyday activities such as walking.

If PAD is also ignored with no correct actions to remedy it, a loss of limbs may occur resulting in amputation.

High cholesterol symptoms could include pain felt on the feet, arms and legs


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Amputation risk

“PAD is the next cardiovascular epidemic,” warns Dr Shipra Arya, assistant professor in the division of vascular surgery at Emory University School of Medicine.

“It is characterised by the same arterial stiffening and plaque formation as heart disease.

“When blood flow to the legs is compromised due to these plaques/cholesterol deposits, it can lead to amputations.”

Dr Arya recommended statin use to help lower cholesterol levels and provide stability to these plaques, so they don’t compromise blood flow to the legs.

Taking statins may reduce your cholesterol levels

“Therefore, it can prevent amputations,” she added.

Peripheral artery disease limits blood flow to your legs and feet.

“With PAD, walking may be painful,” says Westfield Foot and Ankle.

“You could notice cramps when you move, but they should go away with rest.

“The skin on your legs and feet may change colours. In many cases, lifestyle changes can improve PAD symptoms.”

Lower your levels

Quitting smoking can help lower your high cholesterol


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There are ways to bring down your high cholesterol levels with a few simple lifestyle changes, such as:

  • Reduce saturated fats in your diet
  • Eliminate trans fats
  • Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as fatty fish
  • Increase soluble fibre such as fruits, vegetables and legumes
  • Add whey protein
  • Exercise
  • Quit smoking

Who’s at risk of high cholesterol?

Between the ages of 20 and 39, men have a greater risk for high total cholesterol than women.

Women are more likely to have high blood cholesterol than men at other ages.

Family members usually have similar cholesterol levels.

This suggests that your genes can raise your risk of having unhealthy cholesterol levels.

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