High cholesterol: The ‘sudden’ symptom that can ‘lead to surgery to remove a leg or death’

High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips

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Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in blood that comes from the foods you eat and your liver. Although cholesterol supports vital bodily functions, you can have too much of it. High cholesterol can clog up your arteries, cutting off vital blood supply to important organs in the body.

When this process happens, especially in the legs, it is known as peripheral artery disease (PAD).

Symptoms of the cholesterol complication do not usually surface until it progresses.

In the later stages of PAD, you may experience a “sudden loss of blood supply”, warns the American College of Cardiology.

According to the health body, this can “lead to surgery to remove a leg or even death”.

“Over time, people with PAD might limit what they do so they don’t feel pain,” it adds.

Other symptoms include:

  • Pain or cramping in your limbs while at rest
  • Cool or discoloured skin
  • Wounds that don’t heal, or heal slowly.

How to ward off the threat

To keep the risks of cholesterol complications at bay, you must first get tested for high cholesterol.

Since high cholesterol doesn’t typically cause symptoms, you can only find out if you have it from a blood test.

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According to the NHS, your GP might suggest having a test if they think your cholesterol level could be high.

“This may be because of your age, weight or another condition you have (like high blood pressure or diabetes),” explains the health body.

Following a formal diagnosis, you’ll usually be advised to change aspects of your lifestyle to reduce high cholesterol.

There are two central pillars to cholesterol control – eating a healthy diet and engaging in regular exercise.

“Healthy eating can make a huge difference to your cholesterol levels and your heart health, whether your cholesterol has crept up over the years or you have a genetic condition,” says cholesterol charity Heart UK.

According to Heart UK, omega 3 fats are a group of unsaturated fats that we need to stay healthy, especially for heart health.

Oily fish such as sardines, salmon and mackerel are all good sources of omega 3.

“White fish and shellfish contain some omega 3s, but in smaller amounts.”

You should also cut down on saturated fat to keep cholesterol levels in check, advises the cholesterol charity.

Saturated fats are usually solid at room temperature. Most foods high in saturated fats come from animals, as well as coconut products.

Examples include:

  • Dairy foods such as cream, cheese and full fat milk and yoghurt
  • Butter and other solid fats such as ghee, lard and hard margarine
  • Fatty and processed meats such as sausages and bacon
  • Coconut and palm oil.

Unsaturated fats, on the other hand, are found in plant foods and oily fish, and they are usually liquid at room temperature.

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