This site is intended for health professionals only

Eyelid patches indicate heart problems

Raised yellow patches around the eyelids show an increased risk of a heart attack or heart disease, research claims.

A report published on the British Medical Journal's (BMJ) website found patients with xanthelasmata were 48% more likely to have a heart attack.

Xanthelasmata are mostly made up of cholesterol deposits, however, around half who have the condition will not test positively for high cholesterol in a blood test.

Professor Anne Tybjærg-Hansen at the University of Copenhagen began following 12,745 people free from heart disease in the 1970s right through until 2009. 

4.4% of participants had xanthelasmata at the start of the study.

During the follow-up 1,872 of the participants had a heart attack, 3,699 developed heart disease, 1,498 had a stroke, 1,815 developed cerebrovascular disease and 8,507 died.

Findings showed the risk of having a heart attack, developing heart disease or dying within a ten year period increased in individuals with xanthelasmata.   

The highest risks were found in men between the ages of 70 and 79. Those with xanthelasmata had a 53% increased risk compared to the 41% risk for men without the condition.

The corresponding figures for women were 35% and 27%.

Researchers warned against the removal of xanthelasmata for cosmetic reasons. 

British Medical Journal