Having high cholesterol means there is too much of a fatty substance called cholesterol in your blood.
While this may not initially cause any issues, over time it can raise your risk for a number of serious health problems.
This is because the cholesterol can build-up in the arteries leading to blockages, preventing blood from getting through.
If not treated this can result in medical emergencies such as heart attacks and strokes.
However, high cholesterol can remain a “hidden” risk, as it does not typically present with symptoms.
The British Heart Foundation (BHF) explains: “There are usually no symptoms of high cholesterol.
“It’s often a hidden risk factor which means it can happen without us knowing until it’s too late.
“That is why it’s so important to get your cholesterol level checked.”
But in some cases a person could notice three signs on their body that are caused by high cholesterol.
These usually only occur if someone has familial hypercholesterolaemia, which means your high cholesterol was inherited as opposed to being caused by lifestyle factors.
They can appear in your knuckles, knees, ankles or eyes.
The BHF urges people to look out for the “visible” signs.
These are “swellings made from cholesterol” that can appear on the knuckles of your hands, your knees or the Achilles tendon at the back of your ankle.
Xanthelasmas are “small, yellow lumps of cholesterol” found near the inner corner of your eye.
The BHF says: “This is a pale white ring around the coloured part of your eye, your iris.”
If you notice any of these signs you should book an appointment with your GP.
However, the only way to be sure whether your cholesterol levels are too high is to get tested.
This can be done by your doctor if you have concerns about your lifestyle or genetics.
Causes of high cholesterol
In the majority of cases high cholesterol is linked to factors such as diet, weight, exercise and smoking.
Therefore to lower your cholesterol the NHS recommends:
- Cutting back on fatty foods, especially saturated fats
- Exercising for 150 minutes a week
- Quitting smoking
- Cutting back on alcohol.