Balding and graying hair among men under 40 could also be an indicator of some form of heart disease, more than obesity, a new study has suggested.

The findings, presented at the 69th Annual Conference of the Cardiological Society of India by the European Society of Cardiology, noted that male-pattern baldness and early graying are associated with a five-fold risk of heart disease for males below the age of 40.

“Premature greying and androgenic alopecia correlate well with vascular age irrespective of chronological age and are plausible risk factors for coronary artery disease,” said author Dr Sachin Patil, a 3rd year resident at the UN Mehta Institute of Cardiology and Research Centre, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India.

The study included 790 men with coronary artery disease and 1,270 healthy men (control group).

The participants underwent clinical history-taking, electrocardiogram (ECG), echocardiography, blood tests, and coronary angiogram, and were likewise given scores of baldness (0-none, 1-mild, 2-moderate, 3-severe).

Data was tested against the participants’ angiographic lesions - an indicator of coronary artery disease.

Early baldness and premature graying are found to be higher among those young men with coronary disease, 49 percent and 50 percent respectively, compared with those of healthy men’s 27 percent and 30 percent, respectively.

The researchers concluded that men who have male-pattern baldness was 5.6 times at greater risk of having coronary artery disease. In comparison, obesity comes with 4.1 times risk.

“Baldness and premature graying 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. Current physicians use common sense to estimate biological age but a validated scale is needed,” principal investigator and associate professor Dr Kamal Sharma said.

Men who have such symptoms should receive extra monitoring and advice on lifestyle habits, suggested lead author Dr Dhammdeep Humane. He also noted that though associations are found, causal relationship must be established before statins can be recommended. MIMS

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