Cardiovascular disease is a fairly common but extremely dangerous condition that can lead to heart attack and/or stroke. It occurs when plaque builds up inside the arteries, narrowing them and decreasing their elasticity. When the arteries weaken, the supply of oxygen to the blood is limited, and the body’s major organs (namely, the heart) suffer. Over time, this can also result in a partial or complete blockage, which in turn can be fatal. There are many known risk factors for developing heart disease, such as smoking, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, lack of physical activity, age, and family history, many of which can be altered through medications and/or simple diet and lifestyle changes. However, some interesting research has implicated a new sign that may be able to predict a person’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease. According to these authors, the presence of deep forehead wrinkles can be a strong indicator that heart disease may be part of a person’s future.
No one, neither man nor woman, wants to see the tell-tale signs of getting older. Unfortunately, wrinkles are just one of the many signs that we must convince ourselves to accept with grace. However, forehead wrinkles may be more than an unsightly sign of aging. A study conducted by researchers in France suggests that individuals with a large number of deep forehead wrinkles were more likely to die from heart disease. Those who had more deep wrinkles than was average for their age group were compared with others who did not have forehead wrinkles for the purpose of the study. The authors of the study claim that, after additional research confirms their findings, we will have an easy and cost-free way of identifying people who are at a high risk of heart disease.
The strong risk factor for heart disease, such as hypertension and high cholesterol, are not able to be seen or felt. Forehead wrinkles, by contrast, are simple, highly visible markers that can be used for assessment. This study, though, only examined forehead wrinkles, which cannot be misinterpreted to mean that all wrinkles indicate a likelihood of heart disease. Furthermore, though identifying and examining a clearly identifiable indicator like wrinkles on the forehead is easy, it should not altogether replace monitoring and analyzing traditional indicators, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Rather, the existence of deep wrinkles in the forehead can be viewed as more of a red flag. While the study did implicate a link between forehead wrinkles and cardiovascular disease, the exact cause of this link remains unknown. There are some theories, but they remain as such. Some doctors and researchers believe that the connection may concern premature aging, stating that early aging of the skin could also lead to early aging of the arteries.
Previous studies focusing on the causes and risk factors that increase the likelihood of heart disease also found connections with visible physical features. In these studies, those with earlobe creases, male-pattern baldness, and xanthelasma (a condition that produces pockets of cholesterol underneath the skin) were at an increased risk of developing heart disease. This new study continued this work, but focused on assessing those with numerous deep wrinkles. 3200 French adults were included for data collection and analysis. Participants were either 32, 42, 52, or 62 years of age at the beginning of the study, and they were followed for 20 years. During this time, 233 of the participants died.
Participants were assigned scores depending on the number of deep wrinkles that they exhibited, with zero representing minimal and three denoting the presence of many wrinkles. The results of the data analysis showed that those with few deep forehead wrinkles- or a wrinkle score of one- were five times more likely to die from heart disease. Participants who scored two or three on the wrinkle index, meaning that they had an above-average number of deep forehead wrinkles- were nearly 10 times more likely to die from heart disease than those with a wrinkle score of zero, an astoundingly high comparison. These strongly indicative findings continued to hold true even after the researches factored in other potential causes of developing heart disease, such as gender, age, level of education, blood pressure, lipid levels, heart rate, the presence of diabetes, and status as a smoker.
The team of researchers, led by study author and professor Yolande Esquirol, presented the research in 2018, at the annual conference of the European Society of Cardiology, which took place in Munich, Germany. While the findings are strong, the team recognizes that future studies remain necessary in order to fully confirm the results. The link must also be explored and evaluated in a larger population. The study is awaiting peer-reviewed and has not been published in a scientific journal. It has a way to go before the results can be considered factual. However, for the time being, the implications remain interesting, possibly enabling medical laypeople to better predict future health risks and outcomes, at least where cardiovascular diseases are concerned.