High cholesterol symptoms

High cholesterol symptoms are astonishingly few and far between. Like diabetes most folk have no idea their figures are dangerously raised.

In fact most pharmacies either for free or a very small sum will prick your finger and give you a fairly accurate measure of your total cholesterol.

Blood pressure and glucose should be tested regularly, along with the impending stroke test seen below.

This page was last updated on 27th October, 2021.

Impending stroke test.
Does the thumb adduct in the impending stroke test?

Surprisingly, like many other diseases such as osteoporosis, high cholesterol gives few if any symptoms. A silent killer because suddenly, without warning, disaster strikes. A stroke, a burst aneurism in the brain or aorta, for example, or sudden heart attack.

What are the impending signs of an acute and potentially fatal heart attack?

A simple test for an impending stroke, perhaps one that everyone with raised cholesterol and high blood pressure should do regularly, is to pull on the fingers like this.

You should do this with both right and left hands, or your chiropractor may do this test on you. Does your thumb curl in? It is an ominous sign, rather than a high cholesterol symptom, of an impending stroke. Do it regularly to yourself if you are at risk. It could save you a lifetime of disability.

We are always looking for an easy way to solve a problem. Short cuts are often also known as cop outs. How can I lower my dangerously high cholesterol without going through the pain of changing my lifestyle?

Enter statins; drugs that lower cholesterol, and raise drug company profits.

In the chiropractic setting, we are frequently faced with patients with obscure leg pain, tingling in legs and feet, and men complaining of impotency.

In medicine, I am being presumptuous, it is patients with a raised LDLs who have no desire to start exercising, or increasing foods that lower  the cholesterol in their diets, or cutting back on foods that raise it who urge their doctors to give them the cop out. 

Enter statins, cholesterol lowering medications. But there is a problem. Are you taking 10 mg rosuvastatin, 20 mg atorvastatin, or 40 mg simvastatin?

In research reported in the respected British medical journal in 2013, over two million patients in Canada, USA and UK, two  million with no chronic kidney disease, and 60,000 with chronic kidney disease were followed, after being prescribed with either high or low potency statins.

What were the results of that research?

Within four months, there were 4691 hospitalisation of patients with acute kidney injury. That is in the group with no prior kidney disease. And 1896 hospitalisations of those with a prior history of kidney disease.

All in all, if you have no prior kidney disease, you are 34% more likely to end up in hospital with serious kidney disease if you are taking high potency statins; that is massive.

These statistics include only hospitalisations. No account was taken of those with other less serious iatrogenic illness also known as doctor caused disease; like impotence and aching legs, for example. Or those who died suddenly at home as a result of taking high doses statins.

So, what were their conclusions?

Starting to take high potency statins is associated with a 34 percent increased rate of hospitalisation and diagnosis for acute kidney injury; the effect seems to be strongest in the first four months after starting the statin treatment.

Get off statins

One of the miserable risks of taking statins is impotence; are there not better ways to get your cholesterol down? Is it time to think about how you can get off statins safely? Are you already aware of your raised figures, or are you blithely unaware of high cholesterol symptoms?

Statins may cause erectile dysfunction.

New research confirms what we already knew; that statin usage is strongly tied to the progression of diabetes.


More than a quarter of those taking statins will develop myopathy; muscle pain and weakness. There may be raised creatinine kinase and in rare cases life-threatening rhabdomyloysis. Simvastatin was the worst with half of the patients exhibiting these symptoms and signs.

In those over 60, the prevalence of myopathy was over a third of those taking statins; that's extremely high.

The SAMSON trial showed that coenzyme Q10 does help with the management of statin-induced myopathy.

High Cholesterol Symptoms

High cholesterol symptoms strike suddenly and devastatingly out of the blue.

You want the cheap and nasty solution for raised cholesterol? Actually it is not so cheap, but nasty and certainly not for the majority of people.

Then ask you doctor for a prescription for statins. Alternatively you could simply start eating oats every day for breakfast, and enjoying chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, several times a week; an apple a day, an occasional glass of red wine, and enjoying a walk every day. The ball is in your court.

What the sensible solution for the rest of us? Well, if you are smart just accept that you must start walking regularly, not so bad, and changing to the diet that your grandparents enjoyed. It means studiously avoiding much of what the food industry dishes up; like those salad dressings high in polyunsaturated oils. Rather make your own olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice vinaigrette. Add some chopped mint, or sweet basil or fresh garlic; choose your own favourites.

There is a genetic condition known as familial hypercholesterolaemia which is another ball game. One in roughly five hundred people inherit the gene from one parent and have mild to moderate problems. One in a million inherit it from both parents and it causes dangerously raised cholesterol. It is resistant to virtually all forms of treatment, including dietary change. Specialised medical treatment is necessary for their high cholesterol symptoms. Read more about hypercholesterolemia at Wikipedia.

It is my considered opinion that for the majority of us a better solution is to regularly enjoy Quaker oats recipes, take a regular walk because exercise and cholesterol are connected, enjoy one glass of red wine and take a look at my good wife's solution.

An apple a day is no old wives' tale and chickpeas are number two on the list of super foods that lower high cholesterol symptoms.

And do not forget the impotence associated with statins. Cannot get it up? And the extra visits to your chiropractor because of discomfort and leg pain or tingling in the fingers and hands. There is a heavy price for taking statins if you have not first tried changing your lifestyle.

Foods that lower cholesterol

Weight loss, difficult though it is, may be part of that programme.

Often, but not always, raised cholesterol is associated with obesity. If you are serious about getting off statins and losing weight then will find many healthy tips at free weight loss programs;  sensible ways to lose weight without using dangerous high protein shakes.

Most of it revolves around increasing the vegetable protein in your diet, foods that lower cholesterol, and in a natural and healthy way of decreasing the carbohydrate, except fruit, but especially those starches with a high glycemic index.


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Why is fruit excepted? Is fruit not high in carbohydrate? Fruit certainly does contain starch but it is also loaded with phytosterols, the substances that prevent cancer. There is no point in dying of cancer instead of obesity.

Insidious leg pain is a common complaint in the chiropractic clinic. When nerve stretch tests are negative, and orthopaedic testing of the foot, knee and hip are negative, then statin induced leg pain should be considered.

Foods to avoid high cholesterol

Foods that lower cholesterol are not rocket science.

Why is that some people like me can eat foods high in animal fat, like butter, and still have low levels of the dangerous cholesterol? It has to do with the overall lifestyle. Enjoy foods that lower cholesterol and then you can have your butter and eat it. Like television it's all about changing from B&W to colour. Eat butternut, tomatoes, apples, broccoli and beetroot and you can enjoy a sensible amount of high animal fat foods like our mutton stew.

Nevertheless it is obviously a smart thing to consider those foods to avoid high cholesterol if you have a problem.

These bobotie recipes, a delicious Cape Malay dish, have been doctored by reducing the ground beef and replacing some of it with garbanzo beans, the world's most favoured legume; they are still absolutely delicious. I am not suggesting you must become vegetarian. 

Hot and spicy bobotie.

Fat is an important part of the diet; without it we would die. There are many questions about those from animals versus that in plants. The answers lie in the fine print; what else you are eating.

For those on the Southern Diet every drop of added animal fat is dangerous. For those enjoying the flexitarian way of eating, occasional red meat, enjoying some butter and cream, if only for the satiety they provide would be fine; never eat margarine because of the great danger associated with hydrogenation.

The dramatic rise of the plant-based oil from soybeans is strongly associated with inflammation in the body. It is added in vast amounts to many processed and baked goods.

High cholesterol symptoms

High cholesterol signs.

Well these are  "signs" rather than a symptoms. Yellow patches on your eyelids? In the iris of you eye? Fatty lumps in your tendons, especially the Achilles tendon? Even if you have no high cholesterol symptoms, you had better have your levels checked.

The FAST mnemonic

  • Face; ask the patient to smile and watch to see if one side droops.
  • Arm; if they raise both arms above their head, does one tend to drift downwards?
  • Speech; ask them to repeat a sentence after you. Is there difficulty understanding what you said, or speaking?
  • Time; every minute after a stroke, millions of neurons die. Getting them immediately to care saves lives and disability. 

About 300 people in South Africa have a stroke every day; being able to use the FAST test to identify these signs will make a huge difference to the survivors.

How to cook garbanzo beans

Garbanzo beans, also known as chickpeas, are number two on the list of superfoods for lowering cholesterol, but most of us never eat them. You can buy them in a can, but I do not recommend it; they are loaded with sugar, salt and chemical preservatives. How to cook garbanzo beans is not rocket science and, at a quarter of the price, worth considering.

Cooking chickpeas is so easy; freeze them and then it is no schlepp to add them to your stews, or make hummus.  They may well be part of the solution to your leg pain?

On a personal level, I absolutely love butter and the fat on meat; when friends and patients started having heart attacks I realised how to cook garbanzo beans should become my responsibility in the kitchen.

Now I pressure cook two pounds of garbanzo beans, rinse them thoroughly to get the phytates out and freeze them in cup-sized packets at least once a month. Now I can have my butter and eat it.

Chickpeas soaking in a pressure cooker.

Insulin resistance

The high cholesterol symptoms story is complex and confusing; even very experienced doctors are arguing about it. There is increasing suggestion that it is only in the presence of insulin resistance and raised blood glucose that it becomes problematic; and that is half of the population in many Western countries. 

So, perhaps before becoming overly concerned about your total cholesterol, first have a fasting blood glucose test, and an HbA1c test done[1].

warfarin and your greens

Your greens are an essential part of the anti-inflammatory diet and protects your blood vessels from damage. However, if you have been put on an anti-coagulant like warfarin, you may have been advised to avoid greens like kale, broccoli and spinach. This is complex, and high cholesterol must be managed from a wholeness standpoint.

The vitamin K in your greens promotes clotting of the blood, directly contrary to the desired effect of the warfarin.

So you are damned if you do, and if you do not eat your greens.

Caught in this catch 22 situation, the Mayo clinic recommends that you are consistent in eating small amounts of greens every single day. Any excess vitamin K will be stored in the liver and not affect the clotting of the blood.

That way too you will not then suffer from a lutein deficiency with a greatly increased risk of developing cataracts and the blindness caused by macular degeneration.

However, if you rarely eat greens, and then suddenly have a large amount, the vitamin K in your blood may rise rapidly and can affect the rate of coagulation as measured by the INR test.

In short a small amount of greens every single day helps to stabilise the rate at which coagulation occurs.

High cholesterol symptoms, warfarin and your greens will provoke difference responses from a variety of doctors. Prevention of course is better than a cure; eat large amounts of kale and spinach every day long before you are a stroke victim to stop that inflammation of your blood vessels in the first place.

Our stance is that the so-called flexitarian diet is the way to go; plant based with occasional meat, rather than risk the statin induced risk of diabetes and myositis.

Useful links

Stones in my Clog

You may be asking why a Chiropractor has such an interest in High Cholesterol Symptoms? Just read this sample chapter from my new book, Stones in my Clog, and you will understand why every Chiropractor needs to keep it in mind that  a patient is taking statins.

Intermittent claudication is caused by a blocked artery in the groin.

If you enjoyed that tidbit, perhaps purchase the whole book? Stones in my Clog ... walk with me through the polders of Holland, meet an entirely different, yet charming people; with one of the highest rates of "kransader ziekte". Coronary heart disease.

Read it on your Kindle, iPad, or smartphone. Cheap compared to paperbacks and instantly available on Amazon. It's only about $3.


Whilst Amazon will try to tempt you with one of their full colour Kindles, the Paperlight model is really all you need. I was astonished how quickly I made the transition to ebooks. No more lugging about heavy books, book cases, no more chopping down trees for paper, and usually less than half the price.

Paperback editions of Frog in my Throat and Bats in my Belfry cost, by the time you have paid postage around $20. $2.99 for Stones in my Clog and A Family Affair ...

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