Cholesterol is actually one of the important substances for the body. But high cholesterol and mixed with fat can be dangerous. People with high cholesterol are at risk for atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis can narrow the arteries and reduce blood flow to other body tissues. Problems that can occur when there is atherosclerosis due to cholesterol are heart attacks and strokes.
But not only that, high cholesterol can also affect other organs, even in your legs and feet. The feet and legs of people with high cholesterol can develop a condition called peripheral arterial disease.
What are the symptoms of cholesterol in the feet?
Leg pain when exercising can be one of the symptoms of high cholesterol. Other symptoms include physical changes in the legs and feet. Even changes can also appear on the toenails. The condition can also worsen over time.
Here are some signs that you have high cholesterol, which can occur in your feet:
Muscle pain during exercise
Quoting the Health page, you can experience muscle pain known as claudication. Conditions include pain, cramps, numbness, and fatigue. This pain can appear when you walk or do other physical activities.
Muscle pain at rest
In severe cases, muscle pain may not go away even with rest. Some people feel pain, cold, or numbness in their feet and toes. The pain usually appears at night or every time the leg is lifted.
Lowering your feet below heart level or hanging them off the bed can help reduce pain. When the feet are down, gravity helps pull more blood into the feet, which can temporarily reduce pain.
Skin and hair changes
Smooth and shiny skin on some feet can be a sign of high cholesterol. You may also lose leg hair, or it may grow more slowly.
You may also notice that your skin color has changed. It may be darker (hyperpigmentation) and at other times, it may be bluish (called cyanosis).
Feet feeling cold or cold to the touch can occur in people with high cholesterol. Blood flow helps keep your feet warm. When your arteries are partially blocked by cholesterol and fat, it is difficult for the body to circulate blood to areas far from the heart and maintain a steady temperature.
Weak or absent pulse
If you have adequate circulation, the pulse can usually be felt in the leg. As blood flow decreases, the pulse may become weak or absent.
Toenails may grow more slowly or become thick, deformed, or discolored when your cholesterol is high. Chronic poor circulation due to narrow or blocked arteries that supply blood to the feet can cause nail changes over time.
A decrease in the amount of muscle, or muscle atrophy, can be a consequence of high cholesterol. Some people may show an overall decrease in the calf or other leg muscles.
Reduced blood flow to the muscles also decreases the delivery of oxygen and energy. This can cause changes in muscle structure and is associated with decreased mobility for people with high cholesterol.
Lack of blood flow from the arteries to the legs and feet can increase the risk of developing sores called arterial ulcers. These ulcers usually occur away from the heart on the legs, feet, ankles, or toes.
Poor blood flow can damage cells, tissues, and nerves, which can cause sores (ulcers) to form on the skin. Especially if there are small wounds. These wounds can also be slow and difficult to heal.
If a person has cholesterol with leg ulcers, the sores may turn pale, or cool when the leg is removed. When the leg is in a sitting position, the skin may turn red.
If left untreated, high cholesterol can progress to tissue death. A severe lack of blood flow can cause tissue death (gangrene) in the feet.
Over time, as the arteries narrow, you may experience pain even when resting or ulcers that don’t heal. This stage is known as critical limb ischemia (CLI).
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