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High cholesterol symptoms: Two signs to spot when 'looking at your face' - doctor's advice

Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in your blood. Maintaining a delicate balance of cholesterol in your body underpins a number of important processes, such as building healthy cells. However, tip the balance and you can trigger a tsunami of problems, gravest of all being heart disease.

Unfortunately, your body does not usually alert you to high cholesterol levels, so the only way of knowing whether you have them is to get a blood test.

Occasionally, however, telltale signs of high cholesterol can emerge on your face.

According to Doctor Gary Bartlett, there are two specific signs that you may have high cholesterol levels "from looking at your face".

One "obvious" sign is xanthelasma - an accumulation of fatty deposits on your eyelids, said Doctor Bartlett.

These are "obvious yellow looking waxy deposits of cholesterol", he explained.

The other telltale sign is corneal arcus.

According to Doctor Bartlett, these are "deposits of cholesterol seen in an 'arc' like distribution within the iris (coloured part of your eye)".

How to respond

The NHS explains: "If you have high cholesterol, a doctor or nurse will talk to you about how you can lower it."

According to the health body, this might include things such as changing your diet or taking medicine.

Different foods lower cholesterol in various ways.

The Mayo Clinic explains: "Some deliver soluble fibre, which binds cholesterol and its precursors in the digestive system and drags them out of the body before they get into circulation.

"Some give you polyunsaturated fats, which directly lower LDL. And some contain plant sterols and stanols, which block the body from absorbing cholesterol."

The rule of thumb is to replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats where possible, advises cholesterol charity Heart UK.

Many foods contain saturated fat, especially animal foods such as meat, butter and dairy products, and foods that are made with them, such as cakes and biscuits.

They're also found in some plant foods including coconut oil and palm oil.

Good sources of unsaturated fat include plant-based fat spreads and oils, oily fish, nuts and seeds.

Saturated fats should make up no more than a third of your daily energy intake, notes Heart UK.

That's 20g for women and 30g for men.

Regular exercise is also integral to lowering high cholesterol levels.

"Aim to do at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of exercise a week," advises the NHS.

Some good things to try when starting out include:

  • Walking - try to walk fast enough so your heart starts beating faster
  • Swimming
  • Cycling. 

Reference: Daily Express: Adam Chapman 

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