Cholesterol and legs
Metabolic Health
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11 Signs Cholesterol Is Harming Your Legs

High cholesterol levels can cause various health problems, including leg issues. From pain and swelling to discolouration and cold feet, there are several signs that your cholesterol levels may be too high and could be causing damage to your legs. This article will discuss 11 warning signs that cholesterol levels may impact your legs. 

1. Swelling in the Legs: 

If you have high cholesterol, your legs may swell due to fluid retention caused by inflammation. This can be accompanied by pain, tenderness, and red streaks in the skin that may indicate a more serious condition.

2. Pain and Tingling in the Legs: 

High cholesterol can cause a decrease in the blood flow to your legs, resulting in pain and tingling sensations.

3. Discoloration of the Legs: 

High cholesterol can cause a yellowish discolouration in your legs due to the accumulation of cholesterol deposits in the skin. A burning sensation can accompany this discolouration.

4. Dry or Flaky Skin on the Legs: 

High cholesterol can cause your legs to become dry and flaky due to the decrease in blood circulation caused by cholesterol.

5. Skin Ulcers on the Legs: 

High cholesterol can cause leg ulcers, usually accompanied by pain and itching.

6. Cramps in the Legs: 

High cholesterol can cause leg cramping pain due to decreased muscle blood flow.

7. Poor Blood Circulation in Your Legs: 

High cholesterol can lead to restricted blood flow in the legs, which can cause fatigue, dizziness, and even lightheadedness.

8. Varicose Veins: 

High cholesterol can cause the formation of varicose veins due to the restriction of blood flow in the legs.

9. Weakness in the Legs: 

High cholesterol can cause a decrease in muscle strength in your legs, leading to difficulty walking or standing.

10. Skin Thickening and Hardening: 

High cholesterol can cause the skin of your legs to become thicker and harder over time due to the accumulation of cholesterol deposits in the skin.

11. Numbness or Tingling in the Legs: 

High cholesterol can cause numbness or tingling sensations in the legs due to decreased blood flow. This can lead to a loss of balance and coordination.

How do fatty deposits trouble your body?

As these deposits grow, it becomes more troublesome for enough blood to pass through the arteries. These deposits can abruptly rupture and become clots, leading to a stroke or cardiac arrest. 

Although hypercholesterolemia can be transmitted through the generations, it's more commonly caused by poor lifestyle choices, making it preventable. Over and above, medical treatment, a healthy diet, and sufficient exercise can assist lower heart problems.

What is PAD?

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) is the shrinking of arterial walls that do not belong to the heart. It is more prominent in the legs when Atherosclerosis attacks the arteries in such areas. The same can happen in the legs or other parts of the body as unhealthy levels of High - density lipoprotein cholesterol can gradually restrict the heart's coronary arteries with plaque. 

When the peripheral artery is at least 60% obstructed, you may begin to notice complications. Claudication that arises and disappears is a prominent symptom. In addition, anytime you wander around, you experience this leg cramp, which fades away as you relax. It indicates diminished blood flow spurred on by plaque accumulation in the arteries.

Else, critical limb ischemia is a documented side effect of PAD. This disorder develops as an injury, an inflammation, or an exposed wound. Now, this wound cannot heal and may even inevitably result in infected tissue and the demand for an amputation.

PAD Symptoms

  • Numbness and the weakening of the legs come under one of the initial signs of this illness. Both limbs or feet have no circulation or a feeble pulse. 
  • Cramps in the hips, thighs, or leg muscles can be unbearable and develop during certain activities, such as walking or climbing stairs, 
  • Erectile dysfunction. 
  • Pain may occur during relaxation or lying in bed if the peripheral vascular condition progresses. 
  • The agony may hamper sleep. Moving or extending one's legs over the edge of the mattress could provide a slight reprieve.
  • Diabetic patients (with critical limb ischemia) commonly have distal arterial lesions. They are identified by engagement of the veins below the knees (BTK), ulceration, necrosis, etc. Moreover, gangrene is frequently the initial indication of PAD.

How High Can Cholesterol Affect Your Legs and Feet?

Limited blood supply or poor circulation can be early signs of peripheral arterial disease. Moreover, if arteries get clogged because of plaque formation, this may restrict the blood flow in the legs. Also, this disorder may result in pain while you are walking, weakening of the heartbeat, alterations in the complexion, or freezing in the lower limbs.

For a very long time, these fatty deposits don't always trigger any complications. However, over time, it gradually elevates inside the arteries. Because of this, hyperlipidemia that has not been treated is risky. Despite your awareness, the excessive triglycerides in the bloodstream contribute to the plaque's formation. 

Moreover, a diagnostic test can be the only way to determine if you suffer from high blood pressure. Here's more you can look forward to:

1. Unusual skin colour change

Health organizations warn that changing the skin colour on their limbs, such as appearing pale or bluish, might be a symptom of PAD. However, it continues by stating that the indications of PAD typically emerge steadily and over time. 

A decreased blood flow caused by excessive cholesterol can also alter skin colour. Due to the reduced flow of blood transporting oxygen and nutrients, the cells are not getting sufficient nourishment. 

Body hair might fade out or regrow significantly more slowly. One could observe a shift in the tint of your epidermis. It could be hyperpigmented and more profound than usual. Often, this might acquire a bluish hue (called cyanosis).

2. Cold feet and leg pain

Risk factors for heart disease can induce your feet and limbs to feel cold or frigid throughout the year. Now, this can happen during the summer, also.

3. Changes in Nail Colour and Thickness

Weak, damaged blood vessels underneath the nails may initiate the illness. Nails can reveal a great deal concerning our current health status, particularly whether or not we're at risk of developing high blood pressure.

High cholesterol and Vascular health

High cholesterol is very harmful to human health, specifically Vascular Health. The human body observes high cholesterol when a lot of fatty molecules are accumulated in the body. These accumulated fat molecules increase in the veins, arteries, and other blood vessels carrying nerves.

This increased number of fat molecules starts to block the blood from flowing. Slowly, over time, the blockage of blood vessels starts to worsen Vascular Health. This can cause various heart diseases, such as Coronary heart disease, heart attack, etc.

People should keep themselves aware of their situation and keep their cholesterol in check. Because vascular health plays a vital role in human life, high cholesterol can create a ruckus in blood-carrying nerves.

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Sores That Do Not Heal

Unhealing Sores are one of the signs that your vascular health is in danger. Sores that do not heal or keep occurring repeatedly are due to low blood flow. Because of the low blood flow, the sored regions do not get ample blood, leading to unhealed sores.

Again, the low amount of blood reaching sore parts is the blockage of arteries by the fat molecules present. So again, if you are experiencing this, consult the medical team to check your cholesterol level. 

Warning Signs your Cholesterol Levels are Dangerously high!

There are no particular signs of high cholesterol levels in general. High Cholesterol levels can slowly destroy your vascular system and blow away the heart. However, in the case of heart disease, there are different signs to warn you.

Moreover, consult your medical team immediately if you ever experience these symptoms. The high cholesterol symptoms that should alarm you regarding your Vascular health are as follows:

  • If you are getting frequent chest pains, then it can be angina pectoris which is caused due to the low blood flow received by the heart.
  • On feeling nauseous or experiencing dizziness suddenly at any time of the day.
  •  If you are getting headaches every now or then, or your vision has started to get blurred.
  • In this case, if you get tired very soon and experience a shortage of breath.

These can be the symptoms of heart diseases caused due to high cholesterol. Also, there is no other way to know about cholesterol from body signals. It can only be checked when you get blood tests done.

Majorly high cholesterol is caused among the groups who do not follow a balanced diet and are overweight or someone with a habit of smoking. So these people should keep getting them regularly checked.

Preventing Cholesterol Plaques

Plagues are created when fat molecules keep accumulating in the arteries or veins. These fat molecules become rock solid and narrow the blood flow path. Moreover, this narrowing of the arteries is called Atherosclerosis. So let us see how we can avoid plaques from forming:

  • Follow a balanced diet with foods with less amount of trans or saturated fats. These foods include grains, protein, vegetables and unsaturated fats. Otherwise, use olive oil as it best suits those with heart conditions.
  • One should start working out and keep their body weight checked. Furthermore, regular workouts such as walking, jogging, or gymming can help them achieve their weight reduction goal.
  • If you are a chain smoker, you should reduce your daily limit. Besides, what's best is to completely cut-off smoking.
  • Ones with heart conditions should avoid stress as much as possible. Stress is a serious foe for heart patients.

How does exercise improve cholesterol levels?

Exercise increases the activity of enzymes. These enzymes aid in the transfer of LDL from the bloodstream and blood vessel walls to the liver. As a result, the size of your LDL particles can be increased by low to moderate activity, lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease. However, the increased particle size will end up forming plagues.

Besides, exercise can speed up the process by which cholesterol is transported from the circulation to the liver. Also, here, it is finally excreted from the body. Further, exercise doesn't impact the liver's capacity to produce cholesterol.


People with high cholesterol may also have weak or thin leg muscles. This happens due to cholesterol's effect on muscle strength and connective tissue. In addition, when we have too much cholesterol, it can build up in our blood vessels. This can lead to problems like heart disease, stroke, and blood clots.

If you are concerned about having high cholesterol levels, there are several things you can do to help reduce the amount of cholesterol in your body. Eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and managing your stress levels are some of the best ways to keep cholesterol levels under control.


1. How do you feel when your cholesterol is high?

No specific symptoms may tell you you have a high cholesterol level. You must opt for a blood test to diagnose it.

2. Can you reverse high cholesterol damage?

It still can't be reversed entirely. However, taking a statin can lower your risk of atherosclerosis-related problems. This is because it reduces inflammation, which keeps the plaque stable. Due to this, statins are frequently essential in the management of Atherosclerosis.

3. What exercise is best for lowering cholesterol?

Walking, jogging, cycling, and swimming can help people decrease their total and LDL cholesterol levels. Besides, these workouts frequently assist in increasing HDL cholesterol levels in individuals.


This website's content is provided only for educational reasons and is not meant to be a replacement for professional medical advice. Due to individual differences, the reader should contact their physician to decide whether the material is applicable to their case.