Xanthelasmata is the term given to little yellow markings that can be seen on eyelids. They are, it would seem from recent research, a very visible sign that a person is at a greatly increased risk of having a heart attack.
Danish researchers published a study in the prestigious British Medical Journal showing evidence that a person with these innocuous-looking yellow marks are 48 per cent more likely to suffer a heart attack than people without the marks.
That might not be surprising when you learn that in fact Xanthelasmata are mainly composed of cholesterol. If you have fatty deposits building up in your eyelids, chances are they are building up elsewhere in your body too.
The researchers think that it might not just be the amount of cholesterol consumed – it might have more to do with indicating that a person’s body is more prone to allowing cholesterol deposits to build up. If those fatty deposits build up in the arteries (which is known as atherosclerosis), this can cause stroke and heart attacks.
The findings mean that if a person has xanthelasmata, they have a one-in-five chance of developing heart disease within the next ten years and should make lifestyle changes to reduce their levels of cholesterol accordingly.
Most people with noticeable xanthelasmata are seen by dermatologists or cosmetic consultants, conscious of the appearance of the marks.
They (patients and doctors alike) are probably unaware that the marks can be a sign of something more serious than an unsightly blemish.