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HIGH cholesterol is a condition that is rarely picked up early due to the absence of obvious symptoms. As the condition causes further damage, however, symptoms may arise. One “red flag” sign on the nails, could be a warning that levels are dangerously high.

High cholesterol is a pernicious condition characterised by the presence of fatty molecules in the blood. Although the condition is harmless in the initial stages, it contributes to the build-up of plaque in the arteries, thereby increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Fortunately, some subtle signs could alert you that your cholesterol levels are high.

High cholesterol is often referred to as a “silent killer” because it wreaks havoc on the body without producing perceptible warning signs.

In rare circumstances, however, the condition will give rise to 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 healthy body.

These so-called “splinters” 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.


An accumulation of cholesterol in the blood can be one of the underlying causes of this damage. According to Healthline: “You may notice a dark red or brown line along your nail groove. The dark streak closely resembles a splinter.”

Not also cases of splinter haemorrhages result from high cholesterol, however. The condition is also associated with vasculitis, which is the eventual outcome of swelling in the blood vessels.


Splinter haemorrhages can also be a sign of endocarditis, an infection in one of the heart valves.

As a general guide, the NHS recommends maintaining total cholesterol levels at 5mmol/L or less.


In the UK however, three out of five adults have total cholesterol levels above 5mmol/L.

What’s more, the average cholesterol levels among Britons are 5.7mmol/L.

Fortunately, there are ways to reverse the condition, and diet should be the main focal point.

The NHS explains: “[High cholesterol] is caused mainly by eating fatty food, not exercising enough, being overweight, smoking and drinking alcohol. It can also run in families.


“You can lower your cholesterol by eating healthily and getting more exercise. Some people also need to take medicine.”

Avoiding foods high in saturated fat is crucial to preventing the condition.


Foods rich in fibre, on the other hand, could significantly help lower bad cholesterol and reduce the risk of severe complications.

This is because as soluble fibre passes through the body, it traps some of the cholesterol and eliminates it as waste, preventing it from entering the arteries.

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