High cholesterol: The ‘early’ signs that could be pointing to ‘excess’ cholesterol

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

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“High cholesterol levels in the body have no clear or exact symptoms,” said Monika Wassermann, Medical Director at BotiqueToYou. However, some warning signs of “excess cholesterol” could occur as a result of several health conditions caused by the fatty culprit. One of these conditions is a so-called peripheral arterial disease (PAD).

Once cholesterol builds up in your arteries, it can trigger a process called atherosclerosis.

This describes arteries clogged up with fatty substances which are leaving them to narrow.

When your arteries start getting narrow, the blood flow to parts of your body can get hampered, triggering PAD.

Wassermann said: “Narrowed blood vessels hinder smooth blood flow to key organs like the legs, kidneys, hands, and stomach due to the blockage caused by plaque in arteries, resulting in PAD.”

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While PAD doesn’t always present with symptoms, Wasserman shared some “early warning” signs to spot.

The symptoms pointing to cholesterol in your arteries could include:

  • Numbness in the arms or feet.
  • Endless fatigue
  • Irritability, especially in the lower body parts
  • Intermittent claudication
  • Body pain.

In case you’re not aware, intermittent claudication details a muscle pain that crops up when you’re active and stops when you rest, the Cleveland Clinic explains.

The NHS recommends seeing a GP if you struggle with recurring leg pain when exercising.

Furthermore, Wassermann added some other possible signs that can be caused by atherosclerosis.

She said: “Atherosclerosis can increase blood pressure as the body uses more force to pump blood, causing chest pain, fatigue, or nausea, which are also signs of high cholesterol.

“At times, plaque can fall off the artery walls causing blood clots on blood vessels that supply blood and nutrients to the heart resulting in breath shortness, ischemia, or heart attacks.”

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Although these signs could be pointing to the fatty substance, high cholesterol doesn’t often show symptoms.

Wassermann said: “A lipid or blood test must be conducted to determine high cholesterol.”

Indeed, the most reliable way of finding your cholesterol levels is through a blood test, the NHS states.

Your doctor might take blood from your arm or do a finger-prick test.

How to lower high cholesterol

Although high cholesterol can be daunting, there’s plenty you can do to lower your levels.

A healthy diet is one way of giving your levels the nudge they need. A cholesterol-busting diet focuses on cutting back on saturated fat found in the likes of sausages, biscuits, butter and cheese.

But there are also other lifestyle tweaks, ranging from exercise to quitting smoking, that could also provide aid.

In some cases, your doctor will instruct you to take a cholesterol-lowering medication called statins to avoid further complications.

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