4+ signs of high cholesterol

4+ signs of high cholesterol

High cholesterol is a notoriously associated with health conditions like obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes mellitus, stroke and even heart attack.

Cholesterol are of different kinds, but when people talk about ‘high cholesterol’, what is actually being discussed is the undesirable amount of low density lipoprotein (LDL) and triglycerides in the bloodstream.

In most cases of elevated cholesterol, there are usually no signs and symptoms, so people with dangerously high cholesterol levels may be going about their daily lives without a clue. In some cases, however, your body may give some subtle signs to draw your attention to your lipid levels.

Here are 4+ bodily signs of high blood cholesterol.

Signs of high cholesterol

1. Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)

PAD is a medical condition that occurs when arteries in the body are diseased such that they can no longer supply tissues and organs with the required amount of blood due to narrowing.

Cholesterol has the ability to stick to the inner wall of an artery to form plagues which progressively narrow that caliber of the blood vessel. This narrowing impedes blood flow through the vessel and causes various symptoms:

Intermittent Claudication

This is a manifestation of PAD that is frequently seen in people with symptomatic high blood cholesterol.

During activity, muscles in the body require more oxygen (hence blood flow) to keep up with the increasing metabolic demands. In people with cholesterol plaque build up, the muscles are not able to get adequate blood supply as a result of the fat blockage.

This causes cramp-like pains in the affected muscle groups. This pain would typically subside once the activity is stopped and the muscles are allowed to rest. Intermittent claudication classically happens in the calf muscles of the lower limbs.

Cold extremities

With the narrowed blood vessels, there is reduced supply of warm blood to the hands and feet. This results in extremities that feel cold to touch compared to other body parts.

Leg ulcers

Reduced blood supply due to plaque build up may cause cells in the extremities to die and form ulcers. These ulcers typically develop spontaneously and heal very slowly.

If any of these manifestations of PAD is familiar to you, watch it! Your body may be alerting you of something.

2. Xanthelasma and Xanthomas

Have you ever seen people with yellowish growths around their eyelids? Those are called xanthelasmas and they are lesions filled with excess cholesterol that have deposited in the skin.  

Some people may have similar swellings, usually on their fingers and knuckles. These hard swellings are xanthomas that result from elevated blood cholesterol.

3. Arcus senilis

Arcus = a ring. Senilis= senile, senior, old-age.

Arcus senilis is a full or incomplete ring of fat deposits that forms around the edge of the cornea in the eyes. It is common in the elderly, but when it develops in younger people below age 40, it is often a pointer to hypercholesterolemia.

4. Angina

Imagine angina to be intermittent claudication that happens in the heart.

Angina causes piercing chest pain that originates from the heart during activity. The pain is caused by fatty plagues blocking the arteries that supply the heart, causing reduced oxygen supply to the heart when it needs to pump more.

Many cases of angina are triggered by activity and relieved by rest. But in some cases, people feel the chest pain even at rest – this is called unstable angina and it usually occurs with severe narrowing of the coronary arteries.

Angina could be a warning sign of high cholesterol.

A word from Healthfacts

Are you experiencing any of these signs? It could be time to get your blood cholesterol levels checked!

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