High cholesterol: Four warning signs on your toes that could lead to ‘amputation’

High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips

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A health complication of high cholesterol is peripheral artery disease, where one or more of the arteries leading to the legs become blocked or narrowed by fatty deposits of cholesterol. When this happens, the toes may feel cold – especially when compared to the toes on the other foot, experts at the Mayo Clinic pointed out. Sores may also develop on the toes, but you will notice that they seemingly don’t heal.

As nutrient-dense and oxygen-rich blood struggles to circulate around the body, hair loss may occur on the big toe, for instance.

Peripheral artery disease could also lead to slow-growing toenails.

Any of these warning signs of poor blood circulation could result in amputation.

This is because limbs that struggle to get the adequate supply of blood it needs will lead to tissue death, otherwise known as gangrene.

The NHS warned that gangrene “typically starts in the toes”, which looks like:

  • Initial redness and swelling
  • Either a loss of sensation or severe pain in the affected area
  • Sores or blisters that bleed or release a dirty-looking or foul-smelling discharge (if the gangrene is caused by an infection)
  • The skin becoming cold and pale.

“In some cases, the affected limb may feel heavy and pressing the skin may produce a crackling sound,” the health body added.

“These symptoms are caused by a build-up of gas under the skin.”

When the tissue begins to die, the toes will change colour, going from red to brown, to purple and then black.

The tissue will then shrivel up and fall away from the surrounding healthy tissue.

Contact your doctor “immediately” if you notice any warning signs of gangrene.

The NHS added: “The earlier treatment for gangrene begins, the more effective it’s likely to be.”

If your GP is not available, call NHS 111 for advice on what to do next.

Gangrene may also lead to septic shock – a life-threatening condition that causes blood pressure to drop to a dangerously low level.

Signs of septic shock include:

  • A rapid but weak pulse
  • Dizziness when you stand up
  • A change in your mental state, such as confusion or disorientation
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Cold, clammy and pale skin.

“Dial 999 immediately to request an ambulance if you suspect that you or someone you know is in septic shock,” the NHS urged.

High cholesterol can also lead to other health complications, aside from peripheral artery disease, gangrene and septic shock.

The condition is also associated with coronary heart disease, angina, mini strokes, heart attacks, and vascular dementia, the charity Heart UK warned.

If you are told by your physician that you have high cholesterol, you would really benefit by trying to lower it as much as you can.

In order to do so, take medication that has been prescribed to you, eat healthily, and exercise regularly.

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