Grey hair linked to higher heart disease risk

Henrietta Brewer
April 12, 2017

This is not to say that every man who has grey hair is at risk of a heart attack.

She said atherosclerosis, the build-up of fatty material inside the arteries which is the condition that causes most heart attacks and strokes and hair greying share similar mechanisms such as impaired DNA fix and hormonal changes. These participants were suspected for heart disease and underwent Computed tomography angiography.

Volunteers were divided into subgroups according to the presence or absence of coronary artery disease and the amount of grey or white hair they had. The amount of grey hair was scored using the hair whitening score: 1 = pure black hair, 2 = black more than white, 3 = black equals white, 4 = white more than black, and 5 = pure white. Each participant was assessed by two independent observers and received a hair whitening score. They also collected info on participants' traditional heart disease risk factors, like family history, hypertension, smoking, diabetes, and dyslipidemia.

Why? Well, a new research out of Egypt suggests grey hair could mean an increased risk of heart disease.

Having a score of three or more was associated with having damaged arteries, high blood pressure and abnormal fat levels, all of which are linked to heart disease. If their study gets approved, gray hair might be classified as a risk indicator for coronary artery disease. Meanwhile, age was an independent predictor of hair whitening.

The researchers noted that simply getting older boosts the likelihood that a man's hair will turn gray. They looked if gray hair was a risk factor for the disease.

"Atherosclerosis and hair graying occur through similar biological pathways and the incidence of both increases with age", said Dr. Samuel. Patient age was the sole independent predictor of hair greying. Thus, health officials recommend that everybody should take all the measures necessary to prevent heart disease. "Our findings suggest that, irrespective of chronological age, hair greying indicates biological age and could be a warning sign of increased cardiovascular risk", said Dr Samuel.

Asymptomatic patients who are at an elevated risk for coronary artery disease should meet with their doctor for frequent check-ups. Additional research in coordination with dermatologists is necessary to glean more information about the causative genetic and environmental variables that determine hair greying. It remains to confirm this track and to conduct " a larger study including men and women (...) to confirm this association between gray hair and cardiovascular risk in patients without known risk factor " "Said Dr Samuel". Yet if the study's findings are confirmed, the hair greying scoring system detailed above could serve as a reliable predictor of coronary artery disease.

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