When it comes to heart disease, it looks like the eyes have it.
Researchers say they can spot who's more likely to suffer the life-threatening condition by simply checking for yellow spots on the eyelids. People who have them face a 50-percent increase in the risk of a heart attack.
The study of nearly 13,000 people in Denmark also found that the yellow spots -- actually little pockets of cholesterol called xanthelasmata -- can up the odds of heart disease by 39 percent and an early death by 14 percent.
That may not sound like a lot, but over the years it can add up -- and over the course of a decade, the researchers say a person with xanthelasmata has a one in five chance of developing heart disease.
You can see where this is going, right? Since the spots are made of cholesterol, the researchers wrote in BMJ that patients who have them should be given cholesterol treatment -- a not-so-subtle code for meds like the statins that have become so overused.
But it's just not that simple, because there's no clear link between those yellow cholesterol pockets and blood levels of the fats. In fact, half the people who develop xanthelasmata have perfectly normal blood cholesterol levels -- and even the new study found that the link to heart disease was there regardless of those blood cholesterol levels.
So instead of blindly flinging statins around, docs should use the yellow patches as a sign they need to dig deeper and get a more complete picture of your heart disease risk factors. As far as those risk factors go, both yellow eyelids and even those cholesterol levels are actually pretty low on the list.
The one that beats them both is homocysteine, the inflammation marker that can signal everything from heart problems to dementia risk -- and you don't need a drug to help lower it.
Something you probably have in your supplement cabinet at this very moment will do that for you: fish oil.
As I've told you before, the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil can slash homocysteine levels -- and, as a bonus, they can even lower your levels of deadly triglycerides and boost HDL cholesterol, aka "the good cholesterol."
It's like killing two birds with one fish.