Women's health * Men's health * 50+ health

Eyelid marks indicate heart attack risk

Eyelid marks indicate heart attack risk Yellow skin patches around the eye

Yellow skin patches around the eyelids indicate a raised risk of heart attack, a new study has found.

The patches, known as xanthelasmata, are also an indicator of heart disease.

However, the study found that white or grey rings around the cornea, or arcus corneae, are not linked to an increased risk of heart attack.

Previous research had found that both xanthelasmata and arcus corneae are deposits of cholesterol, but half of those with either or both features will not test positively for high cholesterol.

The researchers surveyed 12,745 individuals aged between 20 and 93 and free of heart disease when the study began, who were followed over 33 years.

They found that in all age groups for both men and women, the risk of having a heart attack, developing heart disease or dying within a ten year period increased in individuals with xanthelasmata. This risk was independent of other risk factors such as gender, smoking, obesity or high blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

The highest risks were found in men between the ages of 70 and 79. Those with xanthelasmata had a 53 per cent increased risk compared to the 41 per cent risk for men without the condition - an absolute increase of 12 per cent. The corresponding figures for women were 35 per cent and 27 per cent.

The researchers, led by Professor Anne Tybjærg-Hansen at the University of Copenhagen, conclude that the presence of xanthelasmata could help clinicians when they diagnose heart disease and associated conditions.

The findings "could be of particular value in societies where access to laboratory facilities and thus lipid profile measurement is difficult," they wrote.

The study is published today on bmj.com.

This article was published on Fri 16 September 2011



Image © Olga Gabai - Fotolia.com


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