Wrinkles & Your Heart Health

It is amazing what our body can actually tell us about our health. Do you know what forehead wrinkles might be able to tell you about your heart health?  Rachael Rettner, Senior Writer for Live Science, sheds some light on this subject.  None of us like getting wrinkles, especially we women, but there is a new study suggesting some may be more than just a sign of aging.  They might actually signal a heart disease risk.

Researchers in France found that people with numerous and more deep forehead wrinkles than indicated for their age, were more likely to die from heart disease compared with those without forehead wrinkles.  According to the study authors, if the findings are confirmed with more research, looking at forehead wrinkles could be an easy and low-cost way to help identify those at high risk for heart disease.

It is not visible to see or feel the risk factors with high cholesterol or hypertension, according to lead study author Yolande Esquirol, and associate professor of occupational health at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Toulouse in France.  They explored forehead wrinkles as a marker as it’s so simple and visual, and just looking at a person’s face could sound an alarm.

There was only an association between forehead wrinkles and the increase of risk of heart disease, so the findings don’t mean wrinkles definitely indicate you have heart disease.  Looking at forehead wrinkles wouldn’t take the place of assessing people for classic risk factors, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol levels.  It could, however, raise a red flag as a marker of atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries due to plaque buildup.

Some studies have found a link between other visible features like male-pattern baldness, earlobe creases and xanthelasma to heart disease.  The new study analyzed data from more than 3,200 French adults aged 32, 42, 52 and 62 at the beginning of the study.  They underwent exams in which doctors assessed their forehead wrinkles and assigned them a score based on the number and depth of their wrinkles.  Zero score meant no wrinkles and a score of 3 meant numerous deep wrinkles.  They were followed for about 20 years, during which 233 of the participants died of various causes.

Those participants with a wrinkle score of 1 were five times more likely to die from heart disease and those with a score of 2 or 3 were nearly 10 times more likely, compared with people having a score of 0.

Other factors included their age, gender, education level, smoking status, blood pressure, heart rate, lipid levels and if they had diabetes that could affect their risk of death from heart disease.  This suggests the presence or absence of forehead wrinkles may provide some insight to future risk of early death and be considered more than skin-deep.  More studies, however, are needed to confirm the findings and evaluate the link in a broader population of adults.

Dr Fredda Branyon