Do you have wrinkles on your forehead? If you have more than usual, you may be at risk for heart disease, according to a new report.
Researchers from the European Society of Cardiology conducted a study, recently presented at the annual conference of the European Society of Cardiology in Munich, to explore the link between deep forehead wrinkles and cardiovascular disease.
“You can't see or feel risk factors like high cholesterol or hypertension,” coauthor Yolande Esquirol said in statement. “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.”
For their assessment, they examined 3,200 adults, who were healthy and aged 32, 42, 52 and 62 at the beginning of the study. The analysts then assigned each participant a score, one to three, based on the number and depth of wrinkles in their forehead. A score of zero meant no wrinkles and a score of three meant “numerous deep wrinkles.”
After following the subjects for 20 years, they found that those with a wrinkle score of one had a slightly higher risk of dying of cardiovascular disease, compared to those with no wrinkles. The possibility was even higher for those with a score of two or three. Those groups had almost 10 times the risk of dying, compared to those with no wrinkles.
“The higher your wrinkle score, the more your cardiovascular mortality risk increases,” Esquirol said.
While the scientists do not yet understand the relationship between forehead wrinkles and heart disease, they hypothesize that one factor could be atherosclerosis, the hardening of the arteries due to plaque build-up.
“Changes in collagen protein and oxidative stress seem to play a part both in atherosclerosis and wrinkles,” the team wrote. “Also, blood vessels in the forehead are so small they may be more sensitive to plaque build-up meaning wrinkles could one of the early signs of vessel aging.”
Researchers did note that counting forehead wrinkles is not the best predictor of heart disease risk. Blood pressure levels and lipid profiles are still great indicators.
“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,” cautioned Esquirol, “but the practice could be used now in physicians' offices and clinics.”