Deep forehead wrinkles can be early sign of cardiovascular disease

Deep forehead wrinkles can be a sign of poor health as well as getting older as scientists discover link to cardiovascular disease

  • Scientists warned people with forehead wrinkles at risk of dying from condition
  • French study found link between deep wrinkles and plaque build-up in arteries
  • Those with ‘numerous deep forehead wrinkles’ were 10 times more likely to die compared to those with none

Deep forehead wrinkles may be an early sign of cardiovascular disease, researchers have warned.  

A study presented at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress in Munich found that people with more wrinkles than is typical for their age had a higher risk of dying from the condition.

Researchers said the wrinkles could be linked to atherosclerosis – the hardening of arteries due to plaque build-up.

Deep forehead wrinkles may be an early sign of cardiovascular disease, scientists have warned

Atherosclerosis is a major contributor to heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems.

Changes in collagen protein – which gives structure to our hair, skin and nails – and oxidative stress seem to play a part both in atherosclerosis and wrinkles.

The study suggested the tiny blood vessels in the forehead may be more sensitive to plaque build-up meaning wrinkles could be a sign of the vessels ageing.

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Scientists analysed a group of 3,200 working adults who were all healthy and were aged 32, 42, 52 and 62.

They were 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’.

Researchers found a link between forehead wrinkles and atherosclerosis – the build up of plaque in arteries 

The participants were followed for 20 years, during which time 233 died of various causes. 

By the end of the study 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.

Study author Yolande Esquirol, associate professor of occupational health at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Toulouse in France, said: ‘The higher your wrinkle score, the more your cardiovascular mortality risk increases.

Those who had ‘numerous’ wrinkles on their forehead were almost 10 times the risk of dying compared with people who had none

‘You can’t see or feel risk factors like high cholesterol or hypertension.

‘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.’

She said that advice could include straightforward lifestyle changes such as getting more exercise or eating healthier food.

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.

Dr Esquirol added: ‘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.

‘This is the first time a link has been established between cardiovascular risk and forehead wrinkles so the findings do need to be confirmed in future studies, but the practice could be used now in physicians’ offices and clinics.

‘It doesn’t cost anything and there is no risk.’

Previous research has analysed different visible signs of ageing to see if they can presage cardiovascular disease, with a link 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.

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