November 7, 2012

DIAGNOSTIC CLUE: Looking Old May Be A Sign Of Heart Trouble.

The older you look, the worse shape your heart is in, the authors of the ongoing Copenhagen Heart Study concluded.

The study, which began in 1976, followed 11,000 men and women for 35 years to find the connection between physical appearance and heart health.

Originally, the investigators paid attention to seven telltale signs of aging. They eventually found that wrinkles, gray hair and cholesterol deposits on the cornea of the eye were all part of the inevitable wear and tear on the body rather than predictors of bad health.

“These are signs of physical aging, not necessarily biological aging,” said the study’s lead investigator, Dr. Anne Tybaerg-Hansen.

That left four physical traits – a receding hairline, baldness on top of the head, earlobe creases and yellow, fatty deposits around the eyelid – as visible evidence of heart disease. People with at least three of these markers for aging had a 57 percent increased risk for heart attack and a 39 percent increased risk for heart disease.

When the researchers considered gender separately, they found that hair loss in women was not linked with an increased risk of heart disease. However, the men with receding hairlines showed a 40 percent higher risk in men with hair loss than those without.

But who wants to admit to looking old?