High cholesterol: The ‘first noticeable symptom’ is pain in legs | Express.co.uk – Express

Dubbed the silent killer, high cholesterol can quietly raise your risk of heart disease and stroke without warning. However, some symptoms can emerge once the fatty substance builds up in your arteries. One tell-tale sign of this process can strike in four areas of your body.

Plaque is a waxy material made up of cholesterol as well as other things, according to health portal Saint Luke’s.

What’s worse, plaque that has piled up can narrow your arteries, triggering a slew of symptoms.

Once your blood vessels constrict as a result of this, the blood flow to your legs also gets restricted, triggering a condition known as peripheral artery disease (PAD).

This common condition often gives rise to the first symptom of high cholesterol – pain.

READ MORE: Acholic stools are ‘the most common’ sign of pancreatic cancer in ‘initial’ stages

According to the Cleveland Clinic, this “first noticeable symptom” can strike down in four areas of your body.

The number one area that can take the hit is your leg, with this part presenting with discomfort and cramping.

You can identify this type of pain by three tell-tale signs, according to the health portal. Cholesterol leg pain:

  • Develops with activity
  • Goes away with rest
  • Comes back when you resume activity.

Other key signs that could help break the news of PAD are numbness, weakness, heaviness and tiredness in your leg muscles.

However, this type of pain can also travel to your calf, thighs and buttocks.

The Cleveland Clinic adds: “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.”

READ MORE: The ‘first noticeable’ sign that cholesterol is dangerously clogging your arteries

Apart from pain in these four areas, PAD can also present with:

  • A burning or aching pain in your feet and toes while resting, especially at night while lying flat
  • Cool skin on your feet
  • Redness or other colour changes of your skin
  • More frequent infections
  • Toe and foot sores that don’t heal.

The NHS recommends seeing a GP if you experience symptoms of this condition.

However, PAD doesn’t often cause many noticeable symptoms, making it difficult to spot, similarly to high cholesterol.

Due to this silent nature, getting a blood test remains the most reliable way of determining your cholesterol levels.

How to lower high cholesterol

Between lifestyle changes and medication, there are various weapons to add to your arsenal of protection.

The focus of a cholesterol-lowering diet is cutting back on saturated fat – think sausages, butter, cheese and biscuits. But upping your fibre intake could also help bust your levels.

Other lifestyle changes that could benefit your arteries include exercise, quitting smoking and cutting back on alcohol.

However, your doctor might also prescribe a cholesterol-lowering medicine known as statins to prevent further complications.