High cholesterol warning sign in your hands that should ‘ring alarm bells’
When our arteries become clogged with high levels of cholesterol, there are not many obvious “warning signs” that our blood vessels have become waxy with fat. In fact, one of the only warning signs for this condition, which is a precursor to strokes and heart disease, is having unusually pale nails.
This low circulation is a consequence of cholesterol building up in the vessels which carry blood away from your heart, meaning your nails appear lighter in colour, or even become fragile as the supply of blood to your extremities decreases.
Dr Monika Wasserman spoke to the Express about why spotting these symptoms is typically a sign of cholesterol buildup, saying: “Our bodies should ring alarm bells when under attack. Well, I beg to differ [as] this is not always the case with high cholesterol.”
Medical writer Wasserman continued: “High cholesterol attacks in silence, making it difficult to notice its symptoms. However, this does not mean you can completely fail to identify high cholesterol levels in your body.
“One red flag could appear on your nails. If you didn’t know, high cholesterol causes plaque formation in your blood vessels.
“The plaque then affects blood circulation, resulting in pale nails.”
This can also extend to your feet, with pale, brittle and slow-growing toenails identified by the NHS as a potential symptom of high cholesterol – a condition known as peripheral arterial disease.
This disease is triggered by high levels of fat furring your arteries and limiting blood circulation to your lower legs, but the effects are not typically felt right away – as high levels of cholesterol take time to build up.
As The Mirror has previously reported, the other symptoms of cholesterol-dependent PAD are:
Hair loss on your legs and feet
Numbness or weakness in the legs
Brittle, slow-growing toenails
Ulcers (open sores) on your feet and legs, which do not heal
Changing skin colour on your legs, such as turning pale or blue
In men, erectile dysfunction
The muscles in your legs shrinking (wasting)
If you are worried that you might have high levels of cholesterol, it is worth speaking to your GP to have your cholesterol levels tested, as many of the other signs are not particularly obvious. Dr Wasserman said: “Other issues caused by plaque formation include heart attack, stroke, and numbness.
“If by any chance you spot pale nails or other aforementioned symptoms, seek medical attention as soon as you can. Your healthcare provider will perform a blood test to help you find out whether or not it is high cholesterol affecting you.”