Close-up of man examining his white hair

Is grey hair an indicator of heart disease in men?

Grey hair causes enough stress. Nobody likes going grey and the minute grey hair is sighted, we usually find ourselves worrying.

As if that wasn’t enough. Now there’s a new study which links grey hair to an increased risk of heart disease in men.

Scientists have found that grey hair is indicative of an increased coronary artery disease risk caused by damage to arteries supplying blood to the heart.

They think that atherosclerosis and greying hair have similar biological mechanisms such as impaired DNA repair, oxidative stress, inflammation, hormonal changes and stopping growth of functional cells.

The study found that patients with coronary heart disease had a higher hair whitening score and more calcification of the arteries than those who did not have the disease.

The purpose of this study was to investigate the prevalence of grey hair in patients with coronary artery disease and if it was an independent risk marker of the disease.

An observational study included 545 adult men who underwent underwent CT coronary angiography for suspected coronary heart disease.

The patients were divided into two subgroups according to the presence of coronary heart disease or not and based on the amount of grey hair.

The amount of grey hair was graded by a 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 patients grey hair was graded by independent observers.

The researchers collected data on other traditional risk factors of cardiovascular disease such as smoking, diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidaemia and family history of coronary disease.

The researchers found that a hair whitening score of 3 or more was associated with a higher risk of coronary heart disease which was independent of chronological age or other traditional risk factors of the disease.

The study found that patients with coronary heart disease had a higher hair whitening score and more calcification of the arteries than those who did not have the disease.

The analysis revealed that hair whitening is an independent predictor of coronary heart disease along with age, hypertension and dyslipidaemia. Age was the only predictor of hair whitening.

The study warrants further research with dermatologists to understand the role of genetic and environmental causative factors in hair whitening.

While coronary artery disease and hair whitening have similar bio mechanisms, with an increase in incidence of both with age, the findings of this study reveal that irrespective of chronological age, hair greying indicates biological age and is a warning sign for people to get themselves checked up for cardiovascular risk.

After reading this you’ve probably got a few more grey hairs from stress. But factoring in a check-up will help you understand your risk of coronary disease and keep your grey’s in check too.

Source: European Society of Cardiology

Meena Azzollini

Meena Azzollini

Meena is passionate about holistic wellbeing, alternative healing, health and personal power and uses words to craft engaging feature articles to convey her knowledge and passion. She is a freelance writer and content creator from Adelaide, Australia, who draws inspiration from family, travel and her love for books and reading.

A yoga practitioner and a strong believer in positive thinking, Meena is also a mum to a very active young boy. In her spare time, she loves to read and whip up delicious meals. She also loves the smell of freshly made coffee and can’t ever resist a cheesecake. And she gets tickled pink by anything funny!

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