High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips
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High cholesterol or borderline high levels of LDL cholesterol is estimated to impact around 39 percent of people in the UK. However, many people may not realise they have high levels of “bad” cholesterol due to a lack of symptoms.
There are some more common signs of high cholesterol, for those who do suffer from symptoms.
These include chest pain, fatigue and shortness of breath.
But, according to experts, there are some other lesser-known signs of rising cholesterol levels.
Some of these symptoms actually begin in the eye and can be picked up at a routine eye test.
Three key symptoms your optician may notice include:
Arcus senilis- A white ring forming around your cornea
Often, a change in colour around your cornea can indicate worrying information about cholesterol levels.
Your cornea is the clear outer layer at the front of the eye.
With this condition, a white, blue or light grey ring may form around the outside of the front of the eye.
When it is associated with high cholesterol, it occurs due to an increase in cholesterol reaching the cornea.
However, it is not always a sign of high cholesterol.
According to health body Allegro Optical (AO): “You may have noticed a white ring around the outer edge of your cornea, but the colour change may also appear as if your iris has some discolouration.”
“This white ring is called an arcus and it may appear without the presence of high cholesterol.”
Arcus senilis can also occur as a natural part of ageing and does not impact eyesight.
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Xanthelasma – A flat or somewhat raised area around the eyes
Xanthelasma is reported to be “the most common symptom linked to high cholesterol” according to Very Well Health.
The symptom shows itself as a flat or somewhat raised area around the eyes or near the nose.
This can be white or a shade of pale yellow.
The discolouration and change in the skin surface are caused by fat deposits building up under the skin.
Vision is not typically obstructed by xanthelasma.
Experts estimate that around half of people who have these symptoms are suffering from high cholesterol.
Xanthelasmas are even more common in smokers, people who are overweight, diabetic people and those with high blood pressure.
Retinal vein occlusion – most noticeable through a change in vision
The most common symptoms of retinal vein occlusion include a change in vision in one eye such as blurriness, dark spots or lines in your vision known as “floaters” or pain in the affected eye.
This ailment impacted the retina, which is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of your eye.
The retina receives its blood supply through the retinal artery and vein.
Should this vein become blocked, it is called retinal artery occlusion and is a form of acute ischemic stroke.
This can result in severe loss of vision, and lead to further problems with blood flow to the brain and heart.
Often when this vein is blocked, or on the verge of being blocked, blood and fluid will spill out into the retina causing the area to swell.
What is high cholesterol?
High cholesterol is when people have too much of a fatty substance called cholesterol.
There are two main types of cholesterol; high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL).
People often refer to these types of cholesterol as good and bad respectively.
A build-up of LDL cholesterol can lead to an increased risk of potentially fatal illnesses, such as heart disease and stroke.
Medication can be used to treat high cholesterol, but people can also make some lifestyle changes to reduce their levels.
These include cutting down on alcohol, quitting smoking, eating a healthier diet and taking part in exercise.
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