Baggy eyes and earlobe creases linked to heart attacks

<i>Illustration: Rocco Fazzari</i>
Illustration: Rocco Fazzari

IF YOU look old, you might be at higher risk of heart trouble.

People with several visible signs of ageing, such as hair loss and fatty deposits around the eyes, have a higher risk of developing heart problems than those of the same age who look younger, according to a study presented in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

''The visible signs of ageing reflect physiologic or biological age, not chronological age, and are independent of chronological age,'' Anne Tybjaerg-Hansen, the study's senior author, said in a statement.

Professor Tybjaerg-Hansen, from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, presented the results at an annual conference held by the American Heart Association.

The study of almost 11,000 people aged 40 and older found that those who had three to four ageing signs had a 57 per cent increased risk of heart attack and a 39 per cent increased risk for heart disease.

Among the ageing signs cited were a receding hairline at the temples, baldness at the crown of the head, earlobe creases and yellow fatty deposits around the eyelids. Over the course of 35 years of follow-up, 3401 of the participants developed heart disease and 1708 had a heart attack.

''Individually and combined, these signs predicted heart attack and heart disease independent of traditional risk factors,'' the American Heart Association said. ''Fatty deposits around the eye were the strongest individual predictor of both heart attack and heart disease.''

The risk of having a heart attack and developing heart disease increased with each additional sign of ageing among both men and women, who made up 45 per cent of survey participants.

The strongest individual predictor of both were fatty deposits around the eyes. The highest risks were observed among those in their 70s and those with several signs of ageing. ''Checking these visible ageing signs should be a routine part of every doctor's physical examination,'' Professor Tybjaerg-Hansen said.

Agence France-Presse

This story Baggy eyes and earlobe creases linked to heart attacks first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.