Could cholesterol deposits on or around people's eyelids help doctors assess cardiovascular risk?
A preliminary Danish study suggests that the deposits could point to an increased risk for heart attack, arterial disease and early death.
Half of patients with such deposits, a condition called xanthelasmata, actually have normal cholesterol levels!!
The research team therefore believes that buildup of cholesterol on the eyelid is perhaps a marker for cardiac risk, regardless of a patient's cholesterol profile.
"In societies where other cardiovascular disease risk factors can't be readily measured, presence of xanthelasmata may be a useful predictor of underlying atherosclerotic disease [hardening of the arteries]
In their study, the team tracked the health of nearly 13,000 patients who were examined for the presence of such eyelid deposits.
The researchers found that those with the condition had a higher rate of heart disease and heart attack as they got older, and a poorer survival rate as compared with those who did not have the condition.
Specifically, xanthelasmata was linked to a 51 % bump in the risk for a heart attack and a 40 % rise in the risk for ischemic heart disease. The risk for death rose by 17 % among such patients.
Reference: The American Heart Association annual meeting, Nov. 14, 2010, news release