Eyelids as windows into the heart

People who develop yellow bumps on their eyelids often visit a dermatologist to get them removed. They may want to see a cardiologist as well.

Such a skin lesion is actually a cholesterol deposit known medically as xanthelasma (ZAN-thuh-LAZ-muh) — derived from the Greek word for yellow. (The plural is xanthelasmata. You can see what they look like at www.health.harvard.edu/166.) Xanthelasmata are strikingly similar to the cholesterol deposits that develop inside blood vessels and contribute to atherosclerosis. This raises the question of whether the eyelids might provide a diagnostic window into the heart.

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