Cholesterol, a waxy substance produced by the liver, is important for nerve protection and cell tissue formation. However, when cholesterol levels are high, it can cause serious problems like blockages in the heart and brain, leading to strokes.

Strokes can be silent threats until they show symptoms such as chest pain, breathing difficulties, nausea, dizziness and lightheadedness.

Why is high cholesterol a problem?

When there's an excessive amount of cholesterol in our bloodstream, it can team up with other substances to form plaque, causing a condition known as atherosclerosis. This buildup of plaque leads to the narrowing of our arteries, which in turn hampers the smooth flow of oxygen-rich blood to our vital organs and tissues. As a consequence, we may experience symptoms like chest pain and, in more severe cases, heart attacks.

It's crucial to address high cholesterol levels to minimize the risk of these heart-related problems and ensure the well-being of our cardiovascular system.

How is cholesterol linked to your limbs?

Cholesterol can contribute to the development of peripheral artery disease (PAD), which can restrict or block blood flow in the limbs, connected to the arms, legs and pelvis, and can often extend to the nails and skin. The condition is often underdiagnosed as some people may mistake muscle discomfort for a normal sign of aging. In some cases, PAD may only be diagnosed when symptoms become severe enough to cause a medical emergency.

Here are five clear signs that your limbs might be indicating the presence of cholesterol in your body: (Courtesy: the Health Site)

  • Heaviness in the legs: If you feel a heavy and painful sensation in your legs, especially in the thighs or calves, it could be a sign to check your cholesterol levels. The discomfort tends to worsen when walking, even if it's a distance you've previously been able to handle.
  • Cold feet: When your feet feel cold without any obvious cause, it could be an indication that your cholesterol levels are high. Never ignore the sign. It's important to get your blood tested as soon as possible.
  • Change in skin color: Elevated cholesterol levels can result in the formation of blockages in your arteries, impeding blood flow to various areas of your body, especially the lower limbs. This reduced blood supply can cause changes in the color of your skin. It's crucial not to overlook any alterations in skin color. People with high cholesterol may notice the appearance of yellow deposits near the back of their lower legs. These changes in skin color serve as a warning sign of possible vascular issues. To ensure healthy blood circulation, it's essential to monitor and manage your cholesterol levels effectively.
  • Unusual cramps: Do you often get leg and foot cramps? It could be due to high cholesterol levels. When excess cholesterol infiltrates your system, it wreaks havoc on your arteries, restricting the flow of blood to your limbs. As a result, the annoying cramps and spasms leave you tossing and turning in discomfort, especially during the night. You can cure the condition with a simple home remedy; just let your feet dangle from the bed or rest them on a higher surface. This simple act can work wonders by boosting blood circulation and providing much-needed relief from painful cramps.
  • Delay in wound healing: When you have high cholesterol levels, it can actually slow down the healing of wounds in your body, especially in your limbs. It is because cholesterol tends to build up in your arteries, making them narrow. This narrowing restricts the blood flow to the wounded area, which means that it receives fewer nutrients, oxygen and immune cells that are essential for proper healing. Additionally, the cholesterol deposits can also interfere with the functioning of the cells lining the blood vessels, making the healing process even more challenging.

It's important to remember that while high cholesterol can be a contributing factor, there could be other reasons for delayed wound healing, such as diabetes or certain medications. A blood test can help identify the specific condition.