Relationship between gray hair and the risk of cardiovascular disease
If the first gray hair is discovered on your own head, many affected people are initially startled. The obvious signs of advanced age are then often concealed by dyeing the hair. According to a recent study, when hair starts to turn gray is also related to the risk of heart disease - at least in men. Anyone who gets gray hair early is therefore at a significantly higher risk of becoming ill.
In an observational study presented at the “EuroPrevent 2017” congress, the scientists around the cardiologist Dr. Irini Samuel from the University of Cairo has shown that gray or white hair can indicate the risk of cardiovascular diseases. If you get gray hair early, you should therefore have more frequent check-ups, reported Dr. Samuel at the congress.
Gray hair an independent risk marker?
According to the Egyptian cardiologist, aging is an inevitable coronary risk factor, which in turn is associated with certain signs such as gray hair. According to the expert, these signs of aging can therefore also indicate an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases.
In their study, the scientists examined the relationships between the appearance of gray hair and the risk of cardiovascular diseases. "This study assessed the prevalence of gray hair in patients with coronary artery disease and whether it is an independent risk marker of the disease," reports Dr. Samuel.
545 men with suspected CHD were examined
According to the researchers, the prospective observational study included 545 adult men who were examined with so-called multi-slice computed tomography (CT) and coronary angiography in the presence of suspected coronary heart disease. The scientists then grouped participants based on the presence or absence of coronary artery disease and the amount of gray / white hair.
The amount of gray hair was classified based on a "Whitening Score": 1 = pure black hair, 2 = black more than white, 3 = black and white equally distributed, 4 = white more than black and 5 = pure white. Data were also collected on traditional cardiovascular risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, smoking, dyslipidemia (fat metabolism disorder) and the occurrence of coronary artery disease in the family.
Lightening of the hair in CHD patients more
When evaluating, the researchers found that high hair lightening (grade 3 or more) was associated with an increased risk of coronary heart diseases - regardless of the age of the test subjects and other existing cardiovascular risk factors. "Patients with coronary artery disease showed statistically significantly higher hair lightening and more coronary artery calcifications than the subjects without coronary artery disease", reports Dr. Samuel.
Similar biological mechanisms cause the link
The researchers attribute the connection between the appearance of gray hair and the risk of CHD to the mechanisms that are similar in arterial calcification and graying of the hair. In both cases there is impaired DNA repair, oxidative stress, inflammation, hormonal changes and the senescence of functional cells (senescence = cessation of cell division after a certain number of divisions), explains Dr. Samuel. "Atherosclerosis and graying of the hair occur through similar biological mechanisms, and the incidence of both increases with age," the cardiologist continues.
Checkups for people with gray hair?
According to Dr. Samuel suggests that gray hair could be a warning sign of an increased cardiovascular risk. Further studies are needed to determine more about the genetic causes and possible avoidable environmental factors of hair lightening, and a larger sample of men and women is needed to determine the association between gray hair and cardiovascular diseases in patients without other known cardiovascular risk factors to confirm. But the relationships found are relatively clear. "If our results are confirmed, standardization using a gray hair scoring system could be used as a predictor of coronary artery disease," emphasizes Dr. Samuel.
Identified risk patients could then go to regular check-ups and take preventive therapeutic measures if necessary. (fp)