Spasms could be the first noticeable symptom of high cholesterol

Spasms could be the first noticeable symptom of high cholesterol

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

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Dubbed as the silent killer, high cholesterol is the precursor of severe health problems like heart disease without showing many warning signs. Once there’s too much cholesterol in your blood, it starts accumulating in your arteries. One tell-tale sign of this process can sometimes strike in your legs. Here’s how to spot it.

While high cholesterol might not rear its ugly head at first, leaving your levels untreated promotes plaque build-up in your arteries.

Made out of cholesterol and other fatty substances, plaque can pile up in your arteries until they become narrow.

Once your blood vessels constrict, the blood flow to your legs takes the hit, triggering the “first noticeable” sign.

All of these processes are a recipe for a “common” condition known as peripheral artery disease (PAD), the Cleveland Clinic explains.

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According to the health portal, the “first” symptom of PAD may be leg spasms.

Spasms, or cramps, describe a sudden involuntary muscular contraction or convulsive movement.

A leg cramp can feel like a clenched muscle that is severely uncomfortable and painful. 

Apart from leg spasms, PAD can also present with leg discomfort and pain, better known as intermittent claudication.

This type of leg pain can be identified through these tell-tale signs:

  • It develops with activity
  • It goes away with rest
  • It comes back when you resume activity.

Intermittent claudication may also make your legs feel numb, weak, heavy, or tired.

However, this pain doesn’t only strike down in this area as it can also travel all the way to your buttocks.

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The Cleveland Clinic states: “You may notice the pain in your calf, but you may also feel it in your buttocks or thighs.

“The pain can be severe enough to limit your ability to participate in activities you enjoy, such as golfing or chasing after grandchildren.”

PAD can also cause other warning signs, including:

  • 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.


However, PAD doesn’t always cause many noticeable symptoms which makes it hard to spot, similarly to high cholesterol.

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

Your doctor will either draw a blood from your arm or do a finger-prick test, the NHS explains.

Once you get your levels confirmed, there’s plenty you can do to retrieve cholesterol from the red zone – think a diet low in saturated fat and medicine known as statins.


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