High cholesterol: Cramps in these five areas of the body can signal high cholesterol
01/5 – High cholesterol risks
Your cholesterol levels are high when you have too much of a fatty substance called cholesterol in your blood. Your body needs cholesterol to build healthy cells, but high cholesterol can increase chances of developing a heart disease. High cholesterol is mainly caused by eating fatty food, not exercising enough, being overweight, smoking and drinking alcohol. It can also be genetic. High cholesterol does not tend to present symptoms of itself and is therefore, often described as an invisible killer as it paves the way to serious health issues without many obvious signs.
However, a build-up of cholesterol in the arteries can lead to cramping in five areas of the body. This can be symptomatic of peripheral artery disease (PAD), a cholesterol-related health complication.
02/5 – What is Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)
Peripheral Artery Disease is a disease in which plaque such as cholesterol builds up in the arteries that carry blood to your head, organs, and limbs. This is a common circulatory problem in which narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to your legs or arms, usually legs, which don’t receive enough blood flow to keep up with demand. Common risk factors for PAD include ageing, diabetes and smoking.
03/5 – Symptoms of high cholesterol in body
According to the University of California San Francisco’s Department of Surgery, symptoms of high cholesterol may include cramping in the affected leg(s) and in the buttocks, thighs, calves, and feet. These cramps may ease after resting. Other signs and symptoms of PAD include weak or absent pulses in the legs or feet and sores or wounds on the toes, feet, or legs that heal slowly, poorly, or not at all. Your skin may develop a pale or bluish colour. You may feel a lower temperature in one leg compared to the other leg. You may experience poor nail growth on the toes and decreased hair growth on the legs. Men who also have diabetes can experience erectile dysfunction.
Despite these symptoms, there are many people who have PAD and don’t have any signs or symptoms of the disease. You should see your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms, especially recurring pain.
04/5 – Effects of high cholesterol in body
Due to high cholesterol fatty deposits occur in the blood vessels. Over time these deposits grow and restrict the flow of blood.
In some cases, these deposits break down into small clots and limit the blood flow completely for some time leading to a heart attack or stroke.
Thus high cholesterol affects the nervous system, and cardiovascular system the most, though its impact is visible on other parts of the body as well.
While a certain amount of cholesterol is essential for the body to perform several bodily functions, it should always be checked that one does not let it cross the threshold level.
05/5 – How to reduce risk of cholesterol related-complications
To reduce your risk of PAD and other cholesterol related-problems, you should keep high cholesterol levels in check. Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly are very important. There are several foods which can actively help to lower your cholesterol. The key is to cut down on saturated fat and consume unsaturated fats instead. These healthy fats can be found in vegetable oils such as olive, sunflower, nut and seed oils. Fish oils are a good source of healthy unsaturated fats, specifically omega-3 fats.
Regular exercise can also lower your high cholesterol levels. According to experts, you should aim for at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of exercise a week. If you are a beginner, you can start by trying brisk walking, swimming and cycling. You can always give a shot to different kinds of exercises and find something you can enjoy doing on a regular basis.
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