Do You Have Gray Hair? It Could Mean Your Heart Is In Trouble
Graying hair or white hair and coronary heart disease share some of the same mechanisms that come with aging. A recent observational study connects the two events, suggesting that gray hair may be an indicator of heart disease.
A study of more than 500 men found that those with the whitest or grey hair had the most increased risk of coronary artery disease, independent of established cardiovascular risk factors and chronological age.
Research from the European Society of Cardiology, which was presented at EuroPrevent 2017 by Dr. Irini Samuel, a cardiologist at Cairo University, Egypt, connects gray hair with an increased risk of heart disease in men.
Atherosclerosis, which is a disease of the arteries linked to heart disease and hair greying share similar mechanisms. These include inflammation, impaired DNA repair, hormonal changes and the age deterioration of functional cells.
The study assessed the prevalence of grey hair in individuals with and without coronary artery disease, and whether it was an independent risk marker of disease.
Graying Hair Could Be Used as a Predictor for Heart Disease
To draw their conclusions, the researchers looked into potential associations between heart disease and greying hair, in a total of 545 men.
The participants were divided into subgroups according to the absence or presence of coronary artery disease and the amount of grey or white hair they had.
The amount of grey hair was graded using the below hair whitening score:
- 1 = pure black hair
- 2 = black more than white
- 3 = black equals white
- 4 = white more than black
- 5 = pure white
Data was collected on traditional cardiovascular risk factors, which includes diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking and family history of coronary artery disease.
The researchers found that a high hair whitening score or a grade 3 or more, was linked with increased risk of coronary artery disease, independent of chronological age and established cardiovascular risk factors.
Patients with coronary artery disease had a statistically higher coronary artery calcification and higher hair whitening score, compared to those without coronary artery disease.
As per a cardiologist at the Cairo University, Egypt, “Atherosclerosis and hair greying occur through similar biological pathways and the incidence of both increases as one goes thru the aging process”.
The study suggests that, regardless of chronological age, hair greying indicates biological age and could also be a warning sign of increased cardiovascular risk.
Also, seemingly symptomless patients at high risk of coronary artery disease should have regular check-ups to prevent early cardiac events by initiating preventive therapy.
More research is needed, in coordination with dermatologists, to study more about the possible avoidable and causative genetic environmental factors that determine whitening of hair.
A more larger study including both women and men is required to confirm the linked between cardiovascular disease and hair greying in patients without other known cardiovascular risk factors.
The researchers concluded that if the findings are confirmed, the grey hair scoring system can be used as a predictor for coronary artery disease.
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