Washington: A new study has found that raised yellow patches of skin (xanthelasmata) around the upper or lower eyelids are markers of an individual’s increased risk of having a heart attack or suffering from heart disease.
The study, led by Professor Anne Tybaerg-Hansen at the University of Copenhagen, also concludes that white or grey rings around the cornea (arcus corneae) are not linked to an increased risk.
Previous research has established that both xanthelasmata and arcus corneae are deposits of cholesterol.
However, around half of the individuals who have either or both conditions will not test positively for high cholesterol in a blood test.
The scientists surveyed 12,745 individuals, aged between 20 and 93, and were free of heart disease when the study began.
They were followed from 1976-8 until May 2009 with 100percent complete follow-up.
At the beginning of the study 563 of participants had xanthelasmata and 3,159 had arcus corneae.
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.
The results show 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.
In contrast, the results show that arcus corneae is not a significant independent risk predictor for heart attack or heart disease.
The study was published on bmj.com.