High cholesterol can often go undetected but ignoring it can cause dire consequences including a higher risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Your nails can be a surprising tool determining your risk. What to spot?
Having high cholesterol can cause a strange phenomenon which causes dark lines under the nails, otherwise known as splinter haemorrhages.
The American Academic of Dermatology Association warns that these spots on the nail are a red flag warning you’re at risk of heart disease.
“When it’s a sign of heart disease, people tend to have symptoms, such as high fever and a weak or irregular heartbeat,” explains the health body.
A study published in the National Library of Health investigated splinter haemorrhages and its link to high cholesterol.
The study involved a patient with cholesterol crystal embolisation who demonstrated splinter haemorrhages of multiple fingernails and toenails as part of her clinical presentations.
“Our patient’s clinical presentation, and review of the medical literature, raise the possibility that cholesterol crystal embolisation may be associated with splinter haemorrhages,” noted the study.
It concluded that a person’s nails may have hidden clues pertaining to dangerously high cholesterol levels.
What to spot
These splinters present on the nails are small spots of blood that can appear on both the toenails and fingernails.
They are the result of tiny blood vessels that become damaged and burst, leaving small specks of blood that are visible through the nail.
A person may notice a dark red or brown line along their nail groove.
The dark streak closely resembles a splinter.
Splinter haemorrhages may also be a sign of endocarditis, an infection in one of your heart valves.
They may also be a sign of vasculitis, damage from swelling in blood vessels.
A splinter haemorrhage doesn’t usually cause physical pain.
In fact, you may not immediately notice the haemorrhage.
Despite its bad reputation, cholesterol is actually a necessary substance your body needs to function properly.
It’s particularly important for your skin, brain and nerves.
To help people with this distinction, healthcare professionals have begun differentiating between “good” and “bad” cholesterol.
LDL – which stands for low density lipoprotein – is commonly referred to as bad cholesterol.
If there is too much LDL in your arteries, it will clog them up, which is what we know as high cholesterol, and what cholesterol tests are looking for.