I’m a doctor — this is the tell-tale sign on your TOES that shows you’ve got high cholesterol

It’s a condition that affects around 60 per cent of adults. But millions are completely unaware that they have high cholesterol. While there are often no obvious symptoms, there is one tell-tale sign to watch out for — and it’s to do with your toes. 

High cholesterol, which is when your blood contains too much of a fatty substance called cholesterol, can cause called peripheral aerial disease (PAD).

Dr Sami Firoozi, consultant cardiologist at the Harley Street Clinic, told HuffPost that PAD can cause your toenails to be brittle or grow slowly.

PAD is where fatty plaque builds up in your arteries, called atherosclerosis, which limits blood flow to your legs.

Also known as peripheral vascular disease (PVD), PAD can result in poor circulation to your toenails — meaning there is not enough oxygen or nutrients to encourage nail growth.

While the disease can happen in any blood vessel, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it is most common in the legs.

Dr Sami Firoozi, consultant cardiologist at the Harley Street Clinic, said that PAD can cause your toenails to be brittle or grow slowly (file photo)

Other symptoms of PAD to look for include hair loss on your legs and feet, numb or weak legs, open sores that won’t heal and shiny skin, according to the NHS.

Your skin may also change colour slightly, turning paler than usual, but this can be harder to see on brown or black skin.

Cholesterol is vital for the normal functioning of the body, including building cells and making hormones, such as oestrogen and testosterone.

But having too much of it can block your blood vessels, raising the risk of heart attacks, stroke and blood clots.

High levels are mainly caused by eating fatty food, not exercising enough, being overweight, smoking and drinking alcohol — but it can also run in the family.

The condition itself has no symptoms and can be detected only by having a blood test.

Cholesterol is made in the liver and is carried in the blood by proteins and is broadly divided into two types.

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) carries cholesterol from cells to the liver where it is broken down or passed as waste. This is called ‘good cholesterol’.

‘Bad cholesterol’, low-density lipoprotein (LDL), carries cholesterol to cells, with excessive amounts then building in the artery walls.

A diet heavy in animal fats such as butter, processed meat like bacon, and coconut oil can increase your bad cholesterol.

Statins, a group of medicines which can lower LDL, are one of the primary ways to treat high cholesterol and an estimated 7 to 8million people in the UK take them, and 35m in the US.

But the NHS says alterations to your lifestyle can also help lower it, such as eating less fatty food, exercising more, stopping smoking and cutting down on alcohol.

What are statins?

Statins are a group of medicines that can help lower the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood.

Having a high level of LDL cholesterol is potentially dangerous, as it can lead to a hardening and narrowing of the arteries a key factor in cardiovascular disease, the biggest killer in the UK.

A doctor may recommend taking statins if either:

Research has suggested around one in every 50 people who take statins for five years will avoid a serious event, such as a heart attack or stroke, as a result.

There are 5 types of statin available on prescription in the UK:

  • atorvastatin (Lipitor)
  • fluvastatin (Lescol)
  • pravastatin (Lipostat)
  • rosuvastatin (Crestor)
  • simvastatin (Zocor)

However the medication is not without controversy.

Some people argue that the side affects of statins which can include headache, muscle pain and nausea, and statins can also increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, hepatitis, pancreatitis and vision problems or memory loss are not worth the potential benefits.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *