Three red flag signs of major silent killer condition that can appear on the feet

By Staff 6 Min Read

High cholesterol can cause peripheral arterial disease (PAD), which does not always display symptoms but sometimes comes with three telltale signs that show on the feet

High cholesterol is a serious condition that can increase your risk of heart disease and is considered a silent killer as it usually comes with no obvious symptoms.

It is diagnosed when you have too much of a fatty substance called cholesterol in your blood and is mainly caused by eating fatty food, not exercising enough, being overweight, smoking and drinking alcohol. But since high cholesterol does not usually cause symptoms, you can only find out if you have it from a blood test.

One of the risks of cholesterol is that it can build up in the arteries leading to blockages, preventing blood from getting through. It is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death around the world, causing nearly 18 million fatalities annually.

In the UK, cardiovascular disease is linked to around a quarter of all deaths, reports the Express. But despite the absence of symptoms, there are a few telltale signs that could prove lifesaving if spotted early. One of the signs is if you develop a condition called peripheral arterial disease (PAD). According to the NHS, PAD is a common condition where a build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries “restricts” blood supply to leg muscles.

While PAD does not always display symptoms, it can cause signs that appear on the feet. These signs are:

  • Hair loss on the feet
  • Brittle, slow-growing toenails
  • Ulcers on your feet that do not heal

The NHS explains: “The symptoms of PAD often develop slowly, over time. If your symptoms develop quickly, or get suddenly worse, it could be a sign of a serious problem requiring immediate treatment.”

One of the most common signs of PAD appears when walking as some people develop a “painful” ache in their legs, which usually disappears after a few minutes’ rest. The NHS adds: “The pain can range from mild to severe, and usually goes away after a few minutes when you rest your legs.

“Both legs are often affected at the same time, although the pain may be worse in one leg.” Other symptoms of PAD include hair loss on your legs, numbness or weakness in the legs, ulcers on your legs that do not heal, changing colour on your legs, shiny skin, muscles in your legs shrinking, and erectile dysfunction in men.

Having PAD is also associated with a greater risk of coronary heart disease, which is the biggest cause of death among cardiovascular disease in the UK. If you are concerned about your cholesterol levels, you should speak to your doctor. Ways to lower your cholesterol include trying to cut down on fatty food and eating more oily fish, brown rice, nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables. Exercising more is also recommended. The NHS says you should also stop smoking and cut down on alcohol.

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