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High cholesterol symptoms: The warning sign in your toe that may ‘disturb sleep’

High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips

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Cholesterol is a fatty substance that is naturally produced by your liver. Cholesterol performs many important roles, such as building healthy cells, but having too much of it can raise your risk of heart disease. Unfortunately, high cholesterol scarcely presents symptoms. However, if the waxy substance starts to restrict the blood flow to your legs, it can cause acute changes.

This cholesterol complication is called peripheral artery disease (PAD).

“As the artery becomes narrower, the leg gets insufficient blood even when it’s at rest,” explains Harvard Health.

According to the health body, one telltale sign of this process is foot and toe pain and tingling that may “disturb sleep”.

Other signs include:

  • Sores on your toes, feet or legs that won’t heal
  • A change in the colour of your legs
  • Hair loss or slower hair growth on your feet and legs
  • Slower growth of your toenails
  • Shiny skin on your legs
  • No pulse or a weak pulse in your legs or feet
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  • Pain when using your arms, such as aching and cramping when knitting, writing or doing other manual tasks.

Unlike the pain from a blood clot, “PAD pain can be relieved by standing or dangling the leg over the edge of the bed, to force blood down through the arteries”, explains Harvard Health.

How to minimise the risk

To stave off the threat of PAD and other cholesterol-related complications, the most important first step is to get a formal diagnosis of high cholesterol.

You can only find out if you have it from a blood test.

“Your GP might suggest having a test if they think your cholesterol level could be high,” explains the NHS.

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

There are two ways of having a cholesterol test:

  • Taking blood from your arm
  • Finger-prick test.

What happens next

If you have high cholesterol, a doctor or nurse will usually recommend a multi-pronged approach to lowering your levels, which includes modifying your diet and engaging in regular exercise.

According to the Mayo Clinic, oatmeal is one of the best cholesterol-busting foods out there.

“Oatmeal contains soluble fibre, which reduces your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol,” explains the health body.

Soluble fibre is also found in such foods as kidney beans, Brussels sprouts, apples and pears.

According to the Mayo Clinic, soluble fibre works by reducing the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream.

Other helpful foods include:

  • Fish and omega-3 fatty acids
  • Almonds and other nuts
  • Avocados
  • Olive oil.

“Adults should aim to do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity or 75 minutes of intense activity every week. If you can do more that’s even better,” says cholesterol charity Heart UK.

Moderate intensity activity means you get your heart rate up and you’re breathing harder, but you shouldn’t be out of breath.

Walking, jogging, swimming, cycling and dancing are all good choices.

“One way of reaching 150 minutes a week is by being active for 30 minutes a day, at least five days a week,” adds Heart UK.

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