High cholesterol means you have too much cholesterol in your blood. Cholesterol is not bad in itself; among other things, it helps your metabolism work efficiently. However, too much cholesterol can cause your arteries to narrow, thereby cutting off vital blood supply to vital organs. When this process occurs in your legs, it is called peripheral arterial disease (PAD).
PAD is a condition in which the arteries in the legs become narrow, restricting blood flow to them.
If you have severe peripheral arterial disease, the skin on your legs and feet may turn pale and cool, «especially when you put your feet up»Bupa explains.
Other signs include:
- Foot or calf pain at rest or at night.
- Weak muscles in your legs
- Sores or wounds on the toes, feet, or legs that do not heal
- Hair loss of the toes, feet, or legs.
«If you have any of these symptoms, contact a doctor. If your symptoms develop or change quickly, you may need immediate medical treatmentBupa advises.
How to minimize the risk
The best way to avoid the threat of PAD and other complications related to high cholesterol is to get tested first.
You can only find out if you have high cholesterol by doing a blood test.
«Your doctor might suggest a test if you think your cholesterol level might be high,» explains the NHS.
«This can be due to your age, weight, or another condition you have (such as high blood pressure or diabetes)«.
How to lower high cholesterol
If you are diagnosed with high cholesterol, you will usually be advised to make lifestyle changes to lower your high levels.
Different foods lower cholesterol in different ways.
«Some deliver soluble fiber, which binds cholesterol and its precursors in the digestive system and flushes them out of the body before they enter circulation,» explains Harvard Health.
Oats, barley, and other whole grains They are good sources of soluble fiber.
Also You should avoid saturated fats whenever possible to lower high cholesterol levels.
Many foods contain saturated fat, especially animal foods such as meat, butter, and dairy products, and foods made from them, such as cakes and cookies.
They are also found in some plant foods, such as coconut oil and palm oil.
«Reducing foods high in saturated fat and replacing them with foods high in unsaturated fat can help improve cholesterol levels,» explains the cholesterol charity Heart UK.
For example, vegetable fats and oils for spreads, oily fish, nuts and seeds.
According to the UK Dietary Guidelines, about a third of our energy should come from fat. that’s about 70 g for a woman and 90 g for a man per day.
Saturated fats shouldn’t account for more than a third of this. That’s 20g for women and 30g for men.
«When you’re shopping, check product labels to see how much fat they contain and how much they’ll add to your daily maximum,» advises Heart UK.