How Does High Cholesterol Harm Your Legs?

It’s no secret that having high cholesterol is something that can cause the arteries to become clogged. This is the reason why it can increase an individual’s risk of having a heart attack, which happens when the heart tissues are deprived of much-needed oxygen.

Are you aware that it’s not just arteries supplying oxygen-rich blood to the heart that can end up clogged because of high cholesterol, but also arteries elsewhere?

Health authorities refer to the clogging of the arteries in the extremities as peripheral artery disease or PAD, and some of the arteries that can be affected include those that provide the legs with blood. It’s exactly for this reason why having high cholesterol can harm your legs in a number of ways.

Below you will come across some leg-related issues that can stem from high cholesterol and PAD, so keep on reading.

Leg Pain

One of the most common symptoms of PAD is leg pain. Such occurs most especially after engaging in physical activities that entail the use of the legs, such as walking, running and climbing the stairs.

Doctors call it claudication, and the pain that it brings go away as soon as you take a break from what you are doing. Some people with leg pain due to high cholesterol or PAD report of feeling of heaviness, tiredness or burning in one or both legs. By the way, pain can be experienced in any part of the leg.

Unusual Skin Color Change

Because the circulation of the blood to the lower extremities is compromised as a result of arterial clogging, it’s not unlikely for the color of the skin on the legs to change depending on the position. For instance, elevating the legs can cause the skin to become pale, while dangling it from a table may cause the skin to appear purple or bluish.

A person who is suffering from PAD may notice that his or her toes are either pale or bluish while sitting down, most especially for extended periods of time.

Cold Feet

It’s not just the color of the skin of the legs that can change, but also its temperature. When touched, the feet of someone who has high cholesterol or PAD may feel cold. Such doesn’t really come as a surprise as having clogged peripheral arteries can considerably reduce blood flow to the legs.

Needless to say, having PAD as a result of high cholesterol can make your feet feel cold easily. And when they’re cold, you may also have a hard time walking.

Changes in Nail Color and Thickness

Your toe nails need to be supplied with oxygen and nutrients in order to stay healthy. When circulation to the legs is decreased considerably, it’s for certain that there will be notable changes on the toenails.

For instance, the toenails may appear pale or bluish, depending on the positioning of the legs. Experts say that the toenails may also grow in length slower. It’s not unlikely for the toenails of someone with high cholesterol and PAD to become thickened, looking like it has a fungal infection.

Sores That Do Not Heal

One of the many complications of diabetes is the appearance of sores on the feet. Well, the same is also a sign of high cholesterol or PAD as a result of poor blood circulation.

However, sores brought about by having high cholesterol or PAD can cause pain. On the other hand, sores associated with diabetes do not feel painful as a result of the fact that people who are diabetic also have damage to the peripheral nerves, thus causing loss of sensation in the feet or any other part of the legs.

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