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Leg cramp that occurs when moving could indicate high levels of cholesterol

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

Having high cholesterol means you have too much of a fatty substance called cholesterol in the blood.

While it might not initially cause any problems, over time it can build up leading to blockages.

This can prevent proper blood flow around the body.

In extreme cases this can result in medical emergencies such as strokes and heart attacks.

Unfortunately it is rare that high cholesterol causes symptoms, meaning many people are unaware they are living with the condition.

READ MORE Three lunches to avoid if you have high cholesterol – and what to eat instead

However, there can be indicators – especially if the condition has been developing over a long period of time.

The Cleveland Clinic explains: “Over time, high cholesterol leads to plaque build-up inside your blood vessels.

“This plaque build-up is called atherosclerosis. People with atherosclerosis face a higher risk of many different medical conditions.

“That’s because your blood vessels do important work all throughout your body.

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“So when there’s a problem in one of your blood vessels, there’s a ripple effect.”

An example of this is peripheral artery disease, which is when atherosclerosis occurs in the arteries in your arms or legs.

According to the clinic, one sign of this is a cramp in your leg when you move about.

“Peripheral artery disease is dangerous because it often causes no symptoms,” the clinic says.

“You might finally start to feel symptoms when a peripheral artery is at least 60 percent blocked.

“A key symptom is intermittent claudication. This is a leg cramp that starts up when you’re moving around but then stops when you rest.

“It’s a sign of reduced blood flow caused by the growing plaque in your artery.”

The NHS describes this sensation as a “painful ache” in your leg when you walk.

“The pain can range from mild to severe, and usually goes away after a few minutes when you rest your legs,” it says.

“Both legs are often affected at the same time, although the pain may be worse in one leg.”

Other symptoms of peripheral artery disease include:

  • 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 paler than usual or blue – this may be Harder to see on brown and black skin
  • Shiny skin
  • In men, erectile dysfunction
  • The muscles in your legs shrinking (wasting).

If you experience any symptoms you should speak to your GP.

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  • Posted on July 13, 2023