High cholesterol is a fatty substance which is found in our blood and keeps our cells healthy. LDL cholesterol, also referred to as the “bad” cholesterol, can build up inside the walls of the blood vessels – a process that contributes to heart disease. When this hardening process occurs, unusual sensations may be felt in both the arms and legs warning something is not quite right.
Atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, occurs when fat, cholesterol, and other substances build up in the walls of arteries.
These deposits are called plaques and over time, these plaques can narrow or completely block the arteries and cause problems throughout the body.
If you have atherosclerosis in the arteries leading to your brain, you may have signs and symptoms such as sudden numbness or weakness in your arms or legs, difficulty speaking or slurred speech, temporary loss of vision in one eye, or drooping muscles in your face, said the Mayo Clinic.
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Atherosclerosis often occurs with ageing. As you grow older, plaque build-up narrows your arteries and makes them stiffer. These changes make it harder for blood to flow through them, said Medline Plus.
It added: “Clots may form in these narrowed arteries and block blood flow. Pieces of plaque can also break off and move to smaller blood vessels, blocking them.
“These blockages starve tissues of blood and oxygen. This can result in damage or tissue death. It is a common cause of heart attack and stroke.
“High blood cholesterol levels can cause hardening of the arteries at a younger age.
“For many people, high cholesterol levels are due to a diet that is too high in saturated fats and trans fats.”
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While weakness and numbness, medically known as neuropathy, are not direct symptoms of high cholesterol, it can be a risk factor for the condition.
Typically, neuropathy is more likely to occur if an individual has all the symptoms of metabolic syndrome not only high cholesterol, but also high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.
In fact, about 60 to 70 percent of people with diabetes may experience some type of weakness, tingling or numbness.
Unfortunately, most people will not experience symptoms of high cholesterol, so the only way to measure blood cholesterol levels is to get a blood test.
“Your GP or practice nurse will take a blood sample, usually by pricking your finger or you might be asked to go for a blood test at your local hospital,” explains the British Heart Foundation (BHF).
According to the BHF, your blood is then checked for levels of good (HDL) cholesterol, bad (non-HDL) cholesterol and triglycerides (another type of blood fat), as well as getting a total cholesterol result.
HDL cholesterol is often dubbed the “good” cholesterol because it counters the harmful effects of LDL cholesterol.