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Looking old may indicate signs of heart disease

New research suggests that people who suffer signs of aging may be at risk of heart disease

What are the signs of heart disease? Well it might be possible to find out by just looking in the mirror. According to new research, people with receding hairlines, bald heads, creases near their ear lobes or bumpy deposits on their eyelids, have a greater chance of developing of heart disease than more youthful looking people at the same age.

Dr. Anne Tybjaerg-Hansen of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark led the study and gave results at an American Heart Association conference in Los Angeles.

»Looking old for your age marks poor cardiovascular health,« she was quoted saying to various members of the press.

Copenhagen study since 1976

The research involved 11,000 Danish people and began in 1976. At the start, the participants were 40 and older. Researchers documented their appearance, tallying crow’s feet, wrinkles and other signs of age.
In the next 35 years, 3,400 participants developed heart disease and 1,700 suffered a heart attack.

The risk of these problems increased with each additional sign of aging present at the start of the study. This was true at all ages and among men and women, even after taking into account factors such as total cholesterol, triglycerides, BMI, hypertension, diabetes, smoking, alcohol, physical activity, postmenopausal status, hormonal replacement therapy, education, income, family history of heart disease.

Doctors say the study highlights the difference between biological and chronological age.

Baldness may indicate increased risk

According to the research undertaken by University of Copenhagen and Copenhagen University Hospital, those with three to four of these aging signs had receding hairline at the temples, baldness at the crown of the head, earlobe creases or yellowish fatty deposits around the eyelids. Results show that there is a 57 percent greater risk for heart attack and a 39 percent greater risk for heart disease compared to people with none of these signs.

Having yellowish eyelid bumps, which could be signs of cholesterol build-up, indicated the most risk, researchers found. Baldness in men has been tied to heart risk before, possibly related to testosterone levels. They could only guess why earlobe creases might raise risk.

Further studies on the mechanisms underlying the increased risk of cardiovascular disease in individuals presenting with baldness, earlobe crease may reveal possible new risk factors for cardiovascular disease and also provide further knowledge on causes for the increased risk of cardiovascular disease in men compared to women.

(Sources Reuters Copenhagen and Tybjaerg-Hansen research).

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