Location of wrinkles linked to deaths from heart problems

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Are wrinkles just an inevitable consequence of ageing, or could they signal something more sinister?

According to research presented to the European Society of Cardiology this week, people who have lots of deep forehead wrinkles, more than is typical for their age, may have a higher risk of dying of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Assessing brow wrinkles could be an easy, low-cost way to identify people in a high-risk category for CVD.

“You can’t see or feel risk factors like high cholesterol or hypertension,” says study author Dr Yolande Esquirol. “We explored forehead wrinkles as a marker because it’s so simple and visual. Just looking at a person’s face could sound an alarm, then we could give advice to lower risk.”

That advice could include straightforward lifestyle changes like getting more exercise or eating healthier food.

“Of course, if you have a person with a potential cardiovascular risk, you have to check classical risk factors like blood pressure as well as lipid and blood glucose levels, but you could already share some recommendations on lifestyle factors,” Dr Esquirol points out.

Risk of heart disease increases as people age, but lifestyle and medical interventions can mitigate the danger. The challenge is in identifying high-risk patients early enough to make a difference.

According to the study authors, previous research has analysed different visible signs of ageing to see if they can predict cardiovascular disease.

In prior studies, crow’s feet showed no relationship with cardiovascular risk but these tiny wrinkles near the eyes are a consequence not just of age but also of facial movement.

A link has been detected between male-pattern baldness, earlobe creases, xanthelasma (pockets of cholesterol under the skin) and a higher risk of heart disease, but not with an increased risk of actually dying.

The authors of the current prospective study investigated a different visible marker of age – horizontal forehead wrinkles – to see if they had any value in assessing cardiovascular risk in a group of 3200 working adults.

Participants, who were all healthy and were aged 32, 42, 52 and 62 at the beginning of the study, were examined by physicians who assigned scores depending on the number and depth of wrinkles on their foreheads. A score of zero meant no wrinkles while a score of three meant ‘numerous deep wrinkles’.

The study participants were followed for 20 years, during which time 233 died of various causes. Of these, 15.2 per cent had score two and three wrinkles, 6.6 per cent had score one wrinkles and 2.1 per cent had no wrinkles.

The authors found that people with a wrinkle score of one had a slightly higher risk of dying of cardiovascular disease than people with no wrinkles. Those who had wrinkle scores of two and three had almost 10 times the risk of dying compared with people who had wrinkle scores of zero, after adjustments for age, gender, education, smoking status, blood pressure, heart rate, diabetes and lipid levels.

“The higher your wrinkle score, the more your cardiovascular mortality risk increases,” explains Dr Esquirol.

Furrows in your brow are not a better method of evaluating cardiovascular risk than existing methods, such as blood pressure and lipid profiles, but they could raise a red flag earlier at a simple glance.

Do you have deep forehead wrinkles? Are you more likely to have your heart health tested now?

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Written by Ben


Total Comments: 8
  1. 0

    Cosmetic changes are far worse than death.

  2. 0

    Interesting article, but I wish the authors of this type of article would desist from using phrases like ‘increased risk of dying’. It is one of those silly things that detracts, for me at least, from what may otherwise be a scholarly piece of work. If they mean preventable premature death why not write it so. Like it or not we all have a 100% risk of dying, as far as I can tell immortality is not a likely outcome of being born.

    • 0

      Eddy, these people get paid to write this stuff. I want in on the money tree!
      I have often said I want to be the organiser of one of those really expensive feasibility studies that never come to fruition. Get paid $m and write a whole lot of waffle.

    • 0

      Eddy, “increased risk” is a standard industry term in the medical and pharmaceutical industry. It’s a comparison to a zero baseline or lowest risk category and relative from those points. Medical journals publish numbers using this method as the standard analogy.

      Also used but not as frequently is RRR or relative risk reduction to show the comparison between groups.

  3. 0

    I want to receive a government grant for linking non sequitur events and making conclusions.
    If I could put a comedy gif in here I would! ????
    How about linking wrinkles to too much sun = skin cancer.
    How about linking wrinkles to stress = hypertension
    How about linking wrinkles to eye strain = need glasses
    How about linking wrinkles to straining bowel movements = constipation
    ….I am on a roll here.

  4. 0

    Work stress most likely causing the wrinkles in the first place (all were working participants)! Varying degrees of stress at work depending on the job may skew results rather than jus the wrinkles?? I know work (shift) is causing me loads of stress & wrinkles & also preventing me from a leading a healthy lifestyle (or making it difficult tho i try i am always exhausted after 12hr shifts, esp the nights) but if i wasn’t doing it lack of money would create stress & wrinkles as well..can’t win can we? Searching for happiness (it is often said “just do what makes you happy” but that doesn’t put a roof over ones head or pay the basic living costs! Those that believe it is that simple must’ve had handouts (inheritance, lotto/windfall or someone else paying their bills) but working my arse off is only way i know to avoid being hungry & cold & homeless, no one ever around to help me with all this, I’m afraid!

    • 0

      However you created a safe, warm environment for your family and they will give you all the love you need to iron out the stress wrinkles and live a long and healthy life. 🙂



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