Telltale Visible Signs of Aging May Predict Heart Disease

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| Source: American Heart Association

This news release is featured in a news conference at 8 a.m., PT on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012.

Study Highlights:

  • Visible signs of aging may predict your risk of heart disease.
  • A receding hairline, baldness, earlobe crease and yellow fatty deposits on the eyelids were among signs of aging associated with an increased risk of heart disease.

American Heart Association Meeting Report:

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 6, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- If you look old, your heart may feel old, according to research presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2012.

In a new study, those who had three to four aging signs — receding hairline at the temples, baldness at the head's crown, earlobe crease, or yellow fatty deposits around the eyelid (xanthelasmata) — had a 57 percent increased risk for heart attack and a 39 percent increased risk for heart disease.

"The visible signs of aging reflect physiologic or biological age, not chronological age, and are independent of chronological age," said Anne Tybjaerg-Hansen, M.D., the study's senior author and professor of clinical biochemistry at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

Researchers analyzed 10,885 participants 40 years and older (45 percent women) in the Copenhagen Heart Study. Of these, 7,537 had frontoparietal baldness (receding hairline at the temples), 3,938 had crown top baldness, 3,405 had earlobe crease, and 678 had fatty deposits around the eye.

In 35 years of follow-up, 3,401 participants developed heart disease and 1,708 had a heart attack.

Individually and combined, these signs predicted heart attack and heart disease independent of traditional risk factors. Fatty deposits around the eye were the strongest individual predictor of both heart attack and heart disease.

Heart attack and heart disease risk increased with each additional sign of aging in all age groups and among men and women. The highest risk was for those in their 70s and those with multiple signs of aging.

In the study, nurses and laboratory technicians noted the quantity of gray hair, prominence of wrinkles, the type and extent of baldness, the presence of earlobe crease and eyelid deposits.

"Checking these visible aging signs should be a routine part of every doctor's physical examination," Tybjaerg-Hansen said.

Co-authors are Mette Christoffersen, Ph.D. candidate; Ruth Frikke-Schmidt, M.D.; Peter Schnohr, M.D.; Gorm Jensen, M.D.; and Borge Nordestgaard, M.D. Funding information and author disclosures are on the abstract.

Learn your heart attack and heart disease risks or view an animation of a heart attack

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Statements and conclusions of study authors that are presented at American Heart Association scientific meetings are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect association policy or position.  The association makes no representation or warranty as to their accuracy or reliability. The association receives funding primarily from individuals; foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific association programs and events.  The association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content.  Revenues from pharmaceutical and device corporations are available at heart.org/corporatefunding.

Note: Actual presentation is 4:30 p.m. PT, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012 in Room 502b.

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