Early baldness indicates heart disease risk more than obesity, study finds

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Hair Loss
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If you are less than 40 years obese and your friend is balding, your friend may have a higher risk of heart disease.

bald men at bar
bald men at bar

Male-pattern baldness and premature greying are associated with a more than fivefold risk of heart disease before the age of 40 years, according to research presented at the 69th Annual Conference of the Cardiological Society of India (CSI). Obesity was associated with a fourfold risk of early heart disease.

The congress is being held in Kolkata, India, from 30 November to 3 December. Experts from the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) will present a special programme. “The incidence of coronary artery disease in young men is increasing but cannot be explained by traditional risk factors. Premature greying and androgenic alopecia (male-pattern baldness) correlate well with vascular age irrespective of chronological age and are plausible risk factors for coronary artery disease,” said Dr Sachin Patil, a third year resident at the U.N. Mehta Institute of Cardiology and Research Centre, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India. ”

This study investigated the association of premature hair greying and balding patterns in young Indian men with coronary artery disease. The study included 790 men aged less than 40 years with coronary artery disease and 1 270 age-matched healthy men who acted as a control group.

The researchers found that young men with coronary artery disease had a higher prevalence of premature greying (50% versus 30%) and male-pattern baldness (49% versus 27%) compared to healthy controls. After adjusting for age and other cardiovascular risk factors, male-pattern baldness was associated with a 5.6 times greater risk of coronary artery disease.

Surprisingly, the study found that while diabetes mellitus, hypertension, family history of premature coronary artery disease, central obesity, higher body mass index and smoking were predictors of coronary artery disease but to a lesser extent than male-pattern baldness, premature greying, and obesity. Principal investigator, Dr Kamal Sharma, associate professor, Department of Cardiology, U.N. Mehta Institute of Cardiology and Research Centre, said: “Baldness and premature greying should be considered risk factors for coronary artery disease. These factors may indicate biological, rather than chronological, age which may be important in determining total cardiovascular risk. Currently physicians use common sense to estimate biological age but a validated scale is needed.”

Professor Marco Roffi, course director of the ESC programme at CSI and head of the Interventional Cardiology Unit, Geneva University Hospital, Geneva, Switzerland, said: “Assessment of risk factors is critical in the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease. Classical risk factors such as diabetes, family history of coronary disease, smoking, sedentary lifestyle, high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure are responsible for the vast majority of cardiovascular disease. It remains to be determined whether potential new risk factors, like the ones described, may improve cardiovascular risk assessment.”