What your skin may be telling you about your heart health

Published: Feb. 21, 2022 at 11:44 AM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - February is Heart Month, and doctors want you to know about a few skin conditions that could be telling you about your heart health.

“Heart disease is something that is a silent killer, and so we want to catch it early,” said Dr. Azeen Sadeghian, Baton Rouge General Physicians Board-Certified Dermatologist. Dr. Sadeghian is also the Medical Advisor for VisualDX and its skin symptom checker app, Aysa.

Dr. Sadeghian said one of the ways we can do this is by looking at clues on our skin.

“I would say the most obvious is something called xanthelasma palpebrarum,” said Sadeghian.

That’s when you get a yellow spot on the inner part of the eyelid that is cholesterol depositing in the skin. She has also found eruptive xanthomas, and this is when you develop dozens to hundreds of yellow to orange bumps on the skin.

Sadeghian said that if you have either of these, your doctor will test if you have high cholesterol or triglycerides.

“The heart is a muscular pump and has these nourishing blood vessels that feed it,” said Sadeghian. “Over time, cholesterol can deposit his blood vessels and cause a blockage.”

She said leg swelling is also a sign of heart failure.

“The kind of swelling you want to worry about is if you can get indentations on the back of your foot or the front of your shin by pressing on it firmly with one or two fingers,” said Sadeghian. “If you have this and you’re easily fatigued, and you have shortness of breath, this could be a sign of heart failure.

Heart disease rates continue to climb in Baton Rouge, affecting many of our loved ones. That’s why she says it’s important not to assume changes in your skin are normal and make sure you get checked out regularly by your doctor.

“Check yourself out, and a loved one, and if you notice any of those findings, contact your medical team and ask them about heart disease,” said Sadeghian.

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