01/5High cholesterol can lead to pain in certain parts of the body

High cholesterol can lead to pain in certain parts of the body

Over the years, cholesterol has earned itself a bad name due to its association with cardiovascular diseases. However, some cholesterol is essential for the body. It is a waxy substance that is found in the blood, necessary for building healthy cells. But as you probably already know, high levels of cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease.

That said, total cholesterol levels under 200 mg/dl are healthy for adults, whereas readings of at least 240 mg/dl are considered to be high. The main causes of high cholesterol are eating excess foods that are high in saturated and trans fats, minimal physical activity and indulging in unhealthy habits such as smoking and drinking.

While high cholesterol is not usually accompanied by symptoms, it could bring about certain changes in your body that could trigger pain and discomfort. For instance, high cholesterol can harm your arteries, which could increase your risk of developing a peripheral arterial disease (PAD). Let us find out what it is in detail.

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02/5The link between high cholesterol and peripheral artery disease (PAD)

The link between high cholesterol and peripheral artery disease (PAD)

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a circulatory condition associated with narrowed arteries, leading to decreased blood flow to the limbs. When a person suffers from this disease, their arms and usually their legs do not get enough blood flow to keep up with the functions.

It is most often caused by atherosclerosis, a condition associated with buildup of fats, cholesterol and other substances in and on your artery walls, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Hence, if your cholesterol levels are too high, it builds up on the walls of your arteries, gradually leading to atherosclerosis and then peripheral artery disease (PAD).

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03/5Three pain areas associated with PAD

Three pain areas associated with PAD

The American Heart Association (AHA) states that the most common symptom of lower-extremity peripheral artery disease is painful muscle cramping in the hips, thighs or calves when walking, climbing stairs or exercising.

"The pain of PAD often goes away when you stop exercising, although this may take a few minutes. Working muscles need more blood flow. Resting muscles can get by with less," adds the health agency.

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04/5Other symptoms of peripheral artery disease

Other symptoms of peripheral artery disease

Apart from the cramping in the hips, thighs and calves, here are some of the other common symptoms associated with PAD.

- Numbness or weakness in the leg

- Sores on toes, feet or legs, that don't seem to heal

- Changes in leg colour

- Hair loss

- Impaired growth of hair and toenails

- Weak or no pulse in the legs and feet

- Men may experience erectile dysfunction

- Pain and cramping in the arms

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05/5How to lower your cholesterol levels

How to lower your cholesterol levels

Making the right lifestyle choices can help reduce your cholesterol levels, while improving your heart health. Here's what you can do:

- Limit your intake of saturated fats, found in red meat and full-fat dairy products

- Do not consume trans fat

- Increase your omega-3 fatty acids intake (seafood)

- Have more of fibrous foods

- Indulge in various physical activity

- Do not smoke or drink alcohol

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