Tired muscles could be the first symptom of cholesterol build-up

This Morning's Dr Chris discusses the signs of high cholesterol

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High cholesterol describes a waxy substance found in your blood. What’s worse, too much of this fatty culprit can lay the groundwork for serious health problems like heart disease and strokes without spurring on many warning signs. However, once cholesterol starts taking over your arteries, certain warning signs can appear. One tell-tale sign of this process strikes in your muscles.

Leaving high cholesterol untreated can promote plaque build-up in your arteries.

Apart from cholesterol, plaques describe a cocktail of fatty substances, cellular waste products, calcium as well as fibrin.

Once this takes over your blood vessels, they become hard and stiff.

This creates less-than-ideal conditions for your blood flow and your legs can take a hit, triggering the “first” sign.

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This lack of blood flow in your legs can sometimes cause a condition known as peripheral artery disease (PAD), according to the Cleveland Clinic.

The “first symptom” caused by PAD is intermittent claudication, which can make your muscles feel tired.

The health portal states: “It may feel like your muscles are tiring out, or it can feel like a muscle spasm or cramp (sometimes described with the informal term ‘Charley horse’).

“The more effort or activity, the worse the pain will feel. 

“In some cases, you may also feel numbness because the nearby nerves also don’t have enough blood flow.

“An important detail about claudication is that it affects muscles only. 

“It doesn’t cause arthritis and joint pain. The pain should also stop within a few minutes — or even less — once you stop to rest.”

The tell-tale sign of claudication is that it crops up during physical activity and disappears after a few minutes of rest.

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The pain can range from mild to severe and can affect both legs.

While both of your legs can take the hit, the pain may be worse in one leg.

Apart from tired leg muscles, PAD can also lead to other warning signs, including:

  • A burning or aching pain in your feet and toes while resting, especially at night while lying flat
  • Cool skin on your feet
  • Redness or other colour changes of your skin
  • More frequent infections
  • Toe and foot sores that don’t heal.

Unfortunately, peripheral artery disease doesn’t always trigger many noticeable symptoms which makes the condition hard to spot – similar to high cholesterol.

Once you get the condition confirmed, there are various lifestyle tweaks that can retrieve your levels from the danger zone, including a healthy diet and exercise.

A cholesterol-lowering food regime requires cutting back on saturated fats – think cheese, butter, sausages and biscuits. Upping your intake of soluble fibre could also help lower the culprit.

However, some patients might have to take a cholesterol-lowering medicine called statins.

Unfortunately, peripheral artery disease doesn’t always trigger many noticeable symptoms which makes the condition hard to spot – similar to high cholesterol.

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