High cholesterol: ‘Cosmetically disfiguring’ signs of extremely dangerous levels include

Described as “cosmetically disfiguring” by medical experts at Winchester Hospital, fatty lumps – as large as three inches – could form anywhere on the body, which is indicative of high cholesterol. Whether the fatty lumps protrude on the elbows, joints, tendons, knees, hands, feet, or buttocks, they might be tender, itchy and painful. The skin bumps may be different shapes, with well-defined borders that may appear yellow to orange in colouring.

They are known as xanthomas, and aside from high cholesterol, they can also be due to metabolic issues, such as:

  • High triglycerides
  • Diabetes
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Primary biliary cirrhosis
  • Certain cancers.

Depending on their cause, xanthomas may disappear on their own, especially if cholesterol levels are reduced.

Dietary adjustments are key in helping to lower the amount of fat floating in the blood, thereby lowering cholesterol.

Medication, such as statins, would usually be prescribed if cholesterol levels are high enough for xanthomas to develop.

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The UK’s leading cholesterol charity, Heart UK, explained statins are the “main type of cholesterol-lowering drug”.

Statins are powerful. Research shows that they can reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (i.e. “bad” cholesterol) by up to 50 percent.

The medication works by slowing down the production of LDL cholesterol in the liver by blocking an enzyme called HMG-CoA-Reductase.

As a result, the liver takes more cholesterol from the blood so that it is able to create bile, thereby reducing blood cholesterol levels.


Statins also work by stabilising fatty, hardened parts of the arteries, known as plaques.

Usually, these plaques that form due to high cholesterol can burst unexpectedly.

If they do, chemicals are released to encourage a blood clot to form; if the blood clot blocks the arteries, and blood supply, a heart attack or stroke can occur.

Statins lower the risk of hardened plaques breaking away from the arterial wall.

For the best results, it is key to take statins daily and, preferably, at the same time.

Lifestyle adjustments to help lower cholesterol levels

The NHS said: “Eating a healthy diet and doing regular exercise can help lower the level of cholesterol in your blood.”

People hoping to reduce their cholesterol levels need to refrain from eating meat pies, sausages, fatty cuts of meat, and hard cheeses.

Instead, a person’s diet needs to focus on mackerel and salmon, nuts, seeds, and vegetable spreads.

An active lifestyle is encouraged, whether or not a person is taking statins, which requires at least 150 minutes of activity each week.