Certain signs of aging could be a predictor for heart disease

A person’s risk of heart disease could be estimated by examining signs of aging such as hair loss or bags around the eyes, claim researchers in from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. They say such things can be used to determine the true biological age of a person as well as simply a numerical age.

The researchers say that if you have three to four signs of aging such as a receding hairline, baldness (particularly around the crown), earlobe crease or yellow fatty deposits around the eyelid, then you could have a 57% increased risk of a heart attack and a 39% increased risk of heart disease.

They further state that deposits of cholesterol beneath the skin named ‘xanthelasmata’ are one of the biggest signs that can predict the risk for both a heart attack and heart disease. These deposits usually appear as slightly yellow or skin-coloured lumps on the hands or ankles, and are an early sign of familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH).

If you are unfamiliar with this term, it is a genetic defect that affects roughly 1 in every 500 of the population and causes them immediately from birth to be lacking in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptors, which get rid of cholesterol from our blood. Because these people have high cholesterol from the moment they are born, they are at great risk from vascular diseases and hardening of the arteries, much earlier than normal. For anybody unfortunately who has FH, usually the most effective treatment is through statin therapy (e.g. Lipitor or Crestor). These medications decrease the production of LDL cholesterol by the liver, which in turn decreases LDL cholesterol blood levels by around 50%. There are around 120,000 sufferers in the UK and only 15% actually know they have the condition. Medical Specialists would advise everybody to visit their doctor who is able to perform a simple cholesterol check. If your cholesterol is abnormally high then they can suggest ways to best manage this, such as through statin medication.

For the recent study analysing heart risks, the Danish researchers looked at 10,885 people over 40 years of age. It was noted that 7,537 had fronto-parietal baldness – where the hairline is receding at the temples. Furthermore, 3,938 were suffering with crown top baldness. In addition, they also found that 3,405 had earlobe creases and 678 people had fatty deposits around their eyes.

A follow-up period was then carried out, spanning an incredible 35 years. The researchers, led by Professor Anne Tybjaerg-Hansen, found that 3,401 people had developed heart disease and 1,708 had suffered from a heart attack.

In the study – presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2012 – researchers explained how the quantity of greying hair, presence of wrinkles, the type and severity of baldness, and presence of earlobe crease and eyelid deposits were linked to a possible increased risk of heart problems.

Professor Tybjaerg-Hansen, said: “Checking these visible aging signs should be a routine part of every doctor’s physical examination. The visible signs of aging reflect physiologic or biological age, not chronological age, and are independent of chronological age.”

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