High cholesterol symptoms: Four sensations in your leg muscles – fatty deposit build-up
HIGH cholesterol is somewhat common in the UK, and is more common in people who are overweight. The NHS says that more than two in five people in England have high cholesterol “which puts them at significant risk of developing heart disease”.
The British Heart Foundation (BHF) recommends all adults have a cholesterol check at any age, even if they feel completely well. It should be repeated every five years – or more often if the test was abnormal. Indeed, high cholesterol can have a number of negative health consequences, though often no symptoms will arise. Nonetheless, if peripheral artery disease (PAD) occurs it can cause a number of symptoms.
The NHS notes PAD is a common condition where a build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries restricts blood supply.
The health body states: “The symptoms of PAD often develop slowly, over time. If your symptoms develop quickly, or get suddenly worse, it could be a sign of a serious problem requiring immediate treatment.”
PAD is usually diagnosed through a physical examination by a GP, and by comparing the blood pressure in your arm and your ankle.
The Cleveland Clinic says that half of the people who have developed PAD don’t have any symptoms, but pain or discomfort in their legs is a common symptom.
It notes: “You may also feel weak or tired while walking. Affected parts of your leg may include your calves, thighs or buttocks.
“PAD can build up over a lifetime, and the symptoms may not become obvious until later in life.”
It says that the first noticeable symptom of PAD may be “intermittent claudication” which is leg discomfort, pain or cramping. It states that with intermittent claudication, your leg muscles may feel:
The health organisation says pain can be severe enough to interfere with normal walking.
It says: “The pain can be severe enough to limit your ability to participate in activities you enjoy, such as golfing or chasing after grandchildren.
“Reduced blood flow to your leg muscles causes this type of cyclical pain, which goes away at rest because your muscles need less blood flow at rest.”
The American Heart Association says: “If you have cramping, tingling or weakness in your legs, you might have peripheral artery disease.”
The organisation warns: “PAD can lead to leg or foot amputation and even heart attack or stroke. Early detection is key!”
Fortunately, not everyone with high cholesterol will experience PAD, and there are a number of ways to reduce cholesterol.
The NHS says: “To reduce your cholesterol, try to cut down on fatty food, especially food that contains a type of fat called saturated fat. You can still have foods that contain a healthier type of fat called unsaturated fat.”
The NHS adds that around 6.5 million adults in England are currently taking lipid-lowering drugs such as statins.
Statins are the most common medicine for high cholesterol, according to the health service, and work by reducing the amount of cholesterol your body makes.
Statins lower the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood, which is often referred to as “bad” cholesterol, and statins reduce the production of it inside the liver.
The NHS says there are five types of statin available on prescription in the UK. They include atorvastatin, fluvastatin pravastatin, rosuvastatin and simvastatin.