Signs and symptoms of high cholesterol as many completely unaware they have it

Lots of people have heard the term "high cholesterol" before, but many don't know what it actually means.

In fact, people have been warned to stay alert for certain signs they could be "completely unaware" of.

High cholesterol is essentially what happens when fatty substance builds up in your blood.

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According to the NHS, it's mostly caused by over-indulging in fatty foods, not exercising enough, being overweight, smoking and drinking alcohol.

The only issue is there aren't many symptoms so many people will be "completely unaware" they have it, according to the UK Health Security Agency.

But if you don't know you suffer with it then it could put you at risk of experiencing a heart attack or stroke.

You need to do a blood test to determine if you have it for sure and, even though there aren't many symptoms, there are certain things you can keep an eye out for to try and spot it.

Potential signs of high cholesterol

  • Being 40 or over

  • Being overweight

  • High cholesterol or heart problems run in your family

Cholesterol can lead to peripheral artery disease (PAD), which is a condition that develops when fatty deposits build-up inside your arteries and usually concentrate in the feet.

Due to this any change you notice in relation to the features of your feet or legs could indicate PAD or high cholesterol.

Symptoms of PAD

  • Pain

  • Ulcers

  • Gangrene

  • Hair loss on your legs and feet

  • Numbness or weakness in the legs

  • Brittle, slow-growing toenails

  • Ulcers (open sores) on your feet and legs, which do not heal

  • Changing skin colour on your legs, such as turning pale or blue

  • Shiny skin

  • In men, erectile dysfunction

  • The muscles in your legs shrinking (wasting)

You can undertake a cholesterol test in two ways.

Blood can be taken from the arm and sent to a lab or, if you're over 40, you can also have a finger prick test.

This is carried out as part of a general NHS Health Check that spot early signs of heart disease and diabetes.

Once you've done the test a machine will check your cholesterol in a few minutes.

If it turns out your levels are high there are many things you can do to reduce it.

According to Liverpool Echo, these include:

  • Cutting down on fatty foods like meat pies, butter and cakes

  • Eat more foods with unsaturated fat, such as salmon, wholegrain bread, fruit and vegetables

  • Exercise for at least two and a half hours a week

  • Stop smoking

  • Cutting down on alcohol

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