Cyclical pain could be the first sign of high cholesterol levels

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

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High levels of “bad” cholesterol are like a ticking time bomb – the damage coming is foreseeable. While cholesterol doesn’t set off any explosions, the fatty substance can lead to severe health problems like heart disease and stroke. Fortunately, one tell-tale sign of cholesterol building up in your arteries can announce itself with a “cyclical” pain.

When “bad” cholesterol starts accumulating in your arteries, the waxy substance can build up to a point where your arteries become narrow.

Narrow and hard arteries like these take a toll on your blood flow, restricting the usual motion.

Parts of your body can take the hit, triggering the “first noticeable” sign known as “cyclical pain”.

This type of pain is characterised by emerging with activity, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

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Another tell-tale sign of cyclical pain is that it disappears once you rest your muscles.

The reason why this pain crops up during activity and leaves when you rest comes down to the blood flow. 

Once cholesterol has taken over your arteries and reduced blood’s ability to flow, it can trigger a “common” condition known as peripheral artery disease (PAD), the Cleveland Clinic explains.

And PAD’s “first noticeable” symptoms is cyclical pain in your legs.

The health portal explains you can also experience discomfort, pain or cramping that:

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

PAD may also cause your muscles to feel numb, weak, heavy and tired.

While your legs can take the hit, cyclical pain can travel all the way to your buttocks as well.

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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.”

The NHS recommends seeing a GP if you experience “recurring” leg pain when exercising.

Apart from cyclical pain, there are also other symptoms of PAD that could point to cholesterol clogging your arteries, 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.

While all of these red flag signs might occur, PAD doesn’t always cause many noticeable symptoms, similarly to high cholesterol.

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

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

Once you get high levels confirmed, there are many ways to neutralise the time bomb, ranging from a healthy diet to cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins.

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