Did you know that certain signs of aging can indicate poor heart health?
Data presented by Danish researchers reveal that people with receding hairlines, crown top baldness, earlobe crease and fatty deposits around their eyelids are 57% more likely to have a heart attack and 39% more likely to develop heart disease over a 35-year period.
Interestingly, two other common signs of aging - graying of the hair and wrinkles - were not linked to increased heart disease risk in this study.
Presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2012, this study involved about 11,000 men and women aged 40 years and older. Nurses and laboratory technicians rated various signs of aging such as gray hair, wrinkles, the type and extent of baldness, earlobe crease and yellow fatty eyelid deposits in this study population.
The researchers noted that 7,537 subjects had receding hairline at the temples, 3,938 had crown top baldness, 3,405 had earlobe crease, and 678 had fatty deposits around the eye. Over the next 35 years, 3,401 people developed heart disease and 1,708 had a heart attack.
Intriguingly, these four signs of aging turned out to be fairly accurate predictors of heart attack and heart disease risk totally independently of other traditional risk factors, including age, sex, obesity and family history of heart disease.
In particular, fatty deposits around the eyelids proved to be the strongest individual predictor of heart attack in both men and women and were associated with a 35% increased risk. In men, receding hairline at the temples was associated with a 40% increased risk.
Overall, heart attack and heart disease risk rose with each additional sign of aging in all age groups and among both men and women. The highest risk was for those in their 70s: Those with three or four of these aging signs had a 40% chance of being diagnosed with heart disease over the next 10 years.
Clearly, looking old for your age is a potential marker of poor heart health. This study’s findings should also serve as a reminder to physicians to look carefully at their patients when examining them for other complaints or a routine checkup.