HIGH cholesterol is a killer condition that affects millions of people in the UK.
But given it has few obvious symptoms, many people are unaware they even have it.
However, your feet may give you some clues.
Cholesterol is a fatty substance in the blood which accumulates with a bad diet, lack of exercise, smoking and alcohol.
Everybody needs some of it to keep cells in their body healthy, but when there is too much cholesterol it clogs the blood vessels.
But sometimes people have no idea they have the condition until it's too late and they develop serious complications such as a heart attack or stroke.
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Your GP may test your cholesterol if they think you could be at risk or have suffered a health problem caused by the condition.
But otherwise there is no way of knowing, other than buying NHS accredited tests online.
So what could your feet tell you about this silent killer condition?
According to the NHS, cramping or a gripping sensation in the legs or feet could be a sign of peripheral arterial disease (PAD).
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This common heart condition is a complication of high cholesterol.
The build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries restricts blood supply to leg muscles – which is why sufferers experience pain.
For many people, the first signs of PVD begin slowly and irregularly.
They often start with “discomfort like fatigue and cramping in your legs and feet that gets worse with physical activity”, Healthline says.
The condition can also lead to other side effects like reduced hair growth in the legs, reddish blue or pale skin, wounds or ulcers that won’t heal on the legs and feet, thick opaque toenails or numb and heavy muscles.
Risk factors, other than high cholesterol, include high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and being physically inactive.
Anyone can get high cholesterol.
But you're more likely to get it as you age and it's more common in men.
Some people inherit high levels of cholesterol through faulty genes.
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Things that cause high cholesterol include:
- Eating too much saturated fat
- Not being active enough
- Having too much body fat, especially around your middle.
- Drinking excessive alcohol
The 3 signs of high cholesterol
There are usually no symptoms of high cholesterol.
But if you have a family history of the disease, you may have some visible signs, including the following:
- Swollen knuckles
- Yellow lumps in the corner of your eye
- A pale white ring around the coloured part of your eye, your iris
Source: British Heart Foundation
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