High cholesterol: The telltale sign high levels are causing ‘poor blood flow’ in your feet
High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips
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Cholesterol is a waxy substance that your liver produces naturally. Although cholesterol builds healthy cells, having too much LDL cholesterol – the “bad” type – can clog up your arteries and lead to a blockage. Blockages that develop when the arteries that carry blood to the legs become clogged by plaque such as cholesterol are collectively known as peripheral artery disease or PAD.
Unlike high cholesterol, which doesn’t usually present symptoms, PAD can cause perceptible warning signs.
Signs of poor blood flow in the lower limbs include foot ulcers that don’t heal, warns health body Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC).
“Although initial symptoms may be mild, nearly everyone who has PAD finds they are unable to walk as far or as fast as they previously could due to tired, achy legs,” explains BIDMC.
According to the health body, the leg pain associated with PAD is known as “claudication.”
“Tell your doctor if you have fatigue or cramping in the calf, thigh or hip when walking.”
To ward off the threat of PAD, it is vital to control high cholesterol levels.
The first step is to get tested for high cholesterol. You can only find out if you have it from a blood test.
“Your GP might suggest having a test if they think your cholesterol level could be high,” explains the NHS.
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According to the health body, this may be because of your age, weight or another condition you have (such as high blood pressure or diabetes).
There are two ways of having a cholesterol test:
- Taking blood from your arm
- Finger-prick test.
Following a formal diagnosis, you’ll usually be required to make lifestyle changes to lower your levels.
Diet and exercise are the two most important pillars of cholesterol control.
There are several foods which are not just part of a healthy diet, they can actively help to lower your cholesterol too.
The more you add them to what you eat, the more they can help lower your cholesterol.
According to cholesterol charity Heart UK, the optimal approach is to swap saturated fats for unsaturated fats.
Saturated fats are usually hard at room temperature, such as butter, the fat in meat, and coconut oil.
“There are different types of unsaturated fat, known as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, and they do different jobs in the body,” explains Heart UK.
According to the charity, it’s good to eat a range of foods so that you get both.
Unsaturated fats are found in plant foods and oily fish, and they are usually liquid at room temperature.
They’re found in:
- Oils from vegetables, nuts and seeds, such as sunflower, safflower, rapeseed, olive, Walnut and corn oil
- Spreads based on these oils
- Nuts and seeds
- Oily fish such as herring, pilchards, mackerel, salmon and trout.
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