Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have found that cholesterol deposits on eyelids are harmful. Medically termed xanthelasmata, the condition might increase risk of heart disease.

The study tried to find out the presence or absence of xanthelasmata in 12,939 participants. Of these, 1,903 developed heart attacks, 3,761 developed ischemic cases and 8,663 died during up to 33 years of follow-up. It was presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions in Chicago.

The cholesterol condition predicted 51 per cent increased risk of heart attack and 40 per cent increased risk of ischemic heart disease. Researchers noted that those with xanthelasmata also had a 17 percent increased risk of death after they made some adjustments of other heart attack risk factors.

"Other factors besides cholesterol levels -- including capillary leakage, characteristics of macrophages or intercellular matrix components -- may predispose certain individuals to both xanthelasmata and to atherosclerotic disease and early death," said author Mette Christoffersen.