What your looks say about your health

A new study found that people who look older than their peers – those who are balding, have bumps on their eyelids and creases near their ear lobes, for example – have a greater chance at developing heart disease than those who maintain a more youthful appearance as they age.

The research looks at the difference between chronological and biological age. For it, scientists analysed the results of a study of 11,000 Danish people aged 40 and up that started back in 1976, which documented participants’ changes in appearance over the following 35 years.

After the study period finished, researchers found that 7,537 participants had a receding hairline at the temples, 3,938 were balding at the crown, 3,405 had earlobe creases and 678 had yellow fatty deposits around their eyelids.

In that time, 3,400 participants developed heart disease while 1,700 suffered from a heart attack.

The risk for such problems increased with each additional sign of aging that was present when the study began. This remained true no matter the age or sex of participants, even after factors such as family history of heart disease were taken into account.

“Looking old for your age marks poor cardiovascular health,” said study leader Dr. Anne Tybjaerg-Hansen of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, when she gave the results at an American Heart Association conference in Los Angeles.

Those who had three out of the four major physical signs of aging – balding at the crown of the head, receding hairline near the temples, yellow fatty deposits around the eyelids, and earlobe creases – saw a 57 per cent greater risk for suffering from a heart attack and a 39 per cent greater risk of heart disease when compared to those with none of these signs present.

The yellow eyelid bumps – which are a known indicator of cholesterol build-up  – was found to indicate the highest risk, according to researchers.

Baldness in men has been linked to a risk for heart disease before, likely due to increased testosterone levels.

Researchers did not find any explanation for why earlobe creases seemed to create a higher risk.

Sources: Chronicle Herald, Daily Mail

Photo ©iStockphoto.com/Silvia Jansen

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