High cholesterol: Two marks on the face warning of familial hypercholesterolemia

Although eating a diet high in saturated fats, lack of physical activity, smoking and drinking too much alcohol are the common factors influencing high cholesterol levels, even the fittest people could be at risk. There are two marks on the face that could reveal if you have familial hypercholesterolemia. This hereditary condition makes it more difficulty for the liver to break down excess cholesterol.

Fatty bumps may develop on the face, known as xanthomas, confirmed the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NIH).

Another telling sign of high cholesterol levels include “greyish-white rings around the corneas in [the] eye” – this is known as corneal arcus.


Nursing Times said these lesion can be tiny, or grow up to 8cm in diameter.

Common sites of these fatty yellow-tinged deposits usually appear on the eyelids, with the lesions taking months to grow in size.

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The condition can be age-related, known as arcus seniles, or be associated with familial hypercholesterolemia is spotted un people under 40 years old.

Patients with “circumferential deposits” have an increased risk of death from contrary artery or cardiovascular disease.

The presence of cornea arcus warrants a blood sample to check cholesterol levels.

Familial hypercholesterolemia

The FH Foundation defined this condition to be a “common life-threatening genetic condition that causes high cholesterol”.

Left untreated, familial hypercholesterolemia can lead to early heart attacks and heart disease.

It’s caused by a mutated gene that controls the way the body removes excess cholesterol.

As the body is unable to break down cholesterol properly, the substance collects in the bloodstream and deposits on artery walls.

“When one individual with familial hypercholesterolemia is diagnosed, it is important that all family members are screened for familial hypercholesterolemia,” advised the FH Foundation.

Leading a healthy lifestyle isn’t enough to keep cholesterol levels down for people living with this condition.

Treatment may involve a combination of medications, but it’s still crucial to follow a heart-healthy diet low in saturated fat.

It’s also important to exercise regularly, and not to smoke tobacco products.

Medication will likely be lifelong, and the GP will usually prescribe more than one.

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