High cholesterol: The uncomfortable pain that could be a warning sign of ‘silent killer’

High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips

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High cholesterol impacts an estimated two in five of the UK adult population and can be fatal if left untreated. However, the condition often comes with very few recognisable symptoms which has led it to be dubbed a “silent killer”.

High cholesterol or cholesterol build-up can lead to a number of conditions though, such as heart disease or angina.

Therefore, some of the symptoms of these conditions are also commonly associated with high cholesterol.

Feeling pain in the feet, hands or jaw could indicate that you are at risk.

In the hands and feet, pain can occur due to an accumulation of cholesterol which may clog the blood vessels.

According to Cleveland Clinic, a build-up of cholesterol and plaque in the arteries which lead to extremities is called peripheral artery disease (PAD).

The health website added: “PAD can cause discomfort in your legs and feet and limit your walking and activities.

“Severe PAD can progress to loss of limbs.

“Your doctor can check for signs of the disease with a simple test of pulses in your feet.”

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In the hands, an accumulation of fatty deposits clogging the arteries is called atherosclerosis.

Such deposits are made up of cholesterol, fatty substances, cellular waste products, calcium and fibrin.

As the cholesterol in the body builds up, it can clog the blood vessels of the hands.

Over time, it is this build-up that causes painful symptoms.

In the jaw, the pain is often a feeling of discomfort, tightness or squeezing.

In some cases, it may be felt as a sharp or shooting pain.

Most commonly, this is associated with angina, arising from poor blood flow to part of the heart muscle.

Harvard Health states: “Although angina is commonly felt as pain, pressure, or heaviness in the chest, it can appear in many guises.

“The main nerve that carries pain signals from the heart, the vagus nerve, also communicates with the neck, jaw, and head, as well as the left arm.

“That means alarm signals from the heart can be felt elsewhere.”

What are the risk factors of high cholesterol?

High cholesterol can occur for a number of reasons, ranging from age to hereditary factors.

However, some diet and lifestyle choices may also increase the risk.

The NHS states: “High cholesterol is when you have too much of a fatty substance called cholesterol in your blood.

“It’s mainly caused by eating fatty food, not exercising enough, being overweight, smoking and drinking alcohol. It can also run in families.

“You can lower your cholesterol by eating healthily and getting more exercise. Some people also need to take medicine.”

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