High cholesterol: ‘serious’ signs include burning pain in legs – ‘contact your GP’

“The lipid low-density cholesterol (LDL) is known as ‘bad cholesterol’ because high amounts in the blood cause blockages in the arteries and increase the risk of heart problems or stroke,” says Dr Rodney Foale, Consultant Cardiologist at Harley Street Clinic, part of HCA Healthcare UK This is why it is important to get your levels under control as the condition can progress to other problems.

High cholesterol is considered the precursor to serious health problems, according to the NHS.

Dr Foale said: “If left untreated, high cholesterol can, over time, lead to atherosclerosis.

“Arteries become clogged with fatty substances called plaques – which can lead to heart attack and stroke.”

This process that clogs your arteries can sometimes lead to “serious and often fatal problems” including critical limb ischemia.

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This life-threatening condition could draw attention to the underlying problem – high levels of cholesterol in the blood.

He continued: “Critical limb ischemia occurs if blood flow to the legs becomes severely restricted.”

However, this does not happen without symptoms appearing.

As the condition is triggered by reduced blood flow to your legs, this is the area where symptoms can be spotted.


Unfortunately, there aren’t many warning signs of high cholesterol, as red flags usually only appear when the disease progresses.

Dr Foale said: ‘It’s a hidden risk factor, which means it happens without us knowing.

“If they think you might be at risk, your GP will refer you for a simple blood test to check your cholesterol – it’s the only way to know if your cholesterol is too high.

“They will base this on your age, weight, smoking status, high blood pressure, if you have diabetes, or if there is a family history of high cholesterol or heart problems.”

How to reduce high cholesterol

From lifestyle changes to medicine, there are different interventions available to lower your levels.

The key to a cholesterol-lowering diet is to reduce saturated fat, found in sausages, cheese and biscuits, reports the NHS.

Other lifestyle adjustments that may benefit your level include exercise, quitting smoking, and reducing alcohol consumption.

However, some people will need to take a medicine called statins to keep their levels in the safe zone and prevent further complications.