Skin and hair changes are common as we age. However, a recent 2012 study from Denmark has shown that those changes may also signal increased risk of heart disease or heart attack, especially if they seem to appear prematurely.
These visible signs of aging reflect aging of the organs inside our bodies. This is separate from showing our chronological age, Dr. Anne Tybjaerg-Hansen, lead investigator of the Copenhagen Heart Study and a professor of clinical biochemistry at the University of Copenhagen, indicated on Sciencedaily.com.
The study monitored four signs of aging:
- Receding hairline at the temples
- Baldness at the head's crown
- Earlobe crease
- Xanthelasmata (yellow fatty deposits around the eyelid)
Researchers found that the risk of heart attack for people who had three of these four signs increased by 57 percent, Medcitynews.com reported. Their risk for heart disease increased by 39 percent.
Almost 11,000 participants over the age of 40, were monitored for 35 years starting in 1976.
“Of them, 7,537 had receding hairlines at the temples, 3,938 had baldness at the crown of the head, 3,405 had earlobe crease and 678 sported fatty deposits around the eye, ” the article said.
Follow-up monitoring showed that 3,401 of those subjects developed heart disease and 1,708 suffered a heart attack.
The risk of heart disease or heart attack was still present after researchers statistically separated other risk factors such as elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure and smoking.
The limitation of this study is that only white subjects were tested, so results cannot be applied to other ethnic groups without further research. Results of this research were reported at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2012.
This is not the first study that Dr. Anne Tybjaerg-Hansen has led to explore whether certain physical aging signs could indicate a risk of heart attack or heart disease.