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Most patients with high cholesterol levels have no specific symptoms or signs. The vast majority of patients with lipid abnormalities are detected by the laboratory, either as part of the workup of a patient with CVD or as part of a preventive screening strategy. Extremely high levels of chylomicrons or VLDL particles (triglyceride level above 1000 mg/dL or 10 mmol/L) result in the formation of eruptive xanthomas (Figure 28–1) (red-yellow papules, especially on the buttocks). High LDL concentrations result in tendinous xanthomas on certain tendons (Achilles, patella, back of the hand [eFigures 28–2]). Such xanthomas usually indicate one of the underlying genetic hyperlipidemias. Lipemia retinalis (cream-colored blood vessels in the fundus) is seen with extremely high triglyceride levels (above 2000 mg/dL or 20 mmol/L).

Figure 28–1.

Eruptive xanthomas on the arm of a man with untreated hyperlipidemia and diabetes mellitus. (Reproduced with permission from Richard P. Usatine, MD, in Usatine RP, Smith MA, Mayeaux EJ Jr, Chumley H. The Color Atlas of Family Medicine, 2nd ed. McGraw-Hill, 2013.)

eFigure 28–2.

Clinical manifestations of hyperlipidemias. A: Xanthelasma involving medial and lateral canthi. B: Severe xanthelasma and arcus corneae. C: Tuberous xanthomas. D: Large tuberous xanthoma of elbow. E: Eruptive xanthomas, singly and in rosettes. F: Xanthomas of extensor tendons of the hands. G: Xeroradiogram of Achilles tendon xanthoma. H: Xanthoma of Achilles tendon (normal Achilles tendons do not exceed 7 mm in diameter in the region between the calcaneus and the point at which the tendon fibers begin to radiate toward their origins). (Reproduced with permission from Gardner DG, Shoback D. Greenspan’s Basic & Clinical Endocrinology, 10th ed, McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.)

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