Grey hair linked with
increased heart disease risk in men
GREY hair has been linked with an
increased risk of heart disease in men, in research presented at EuroPrevent
2017. "Ageing is an unavoidable coronary risk factor and is
associated with dermatological signs that could signal increased risk. More research is
needed on cutaneous signs of risk that would enable us to intervene earlier in
the cardiovascular disease process." said Dr Irini
Samuel, a cardiologist at Cairo University, Egypt.
Atherosclerosis and hair greying share similar mechanisms such as impaired DNA
repair, oxidative stress, inflammation, hormonal changes and senescence of
functional cells. This study assessed the prevalence of grey hair in patients
with coronary artery disease and whether it was an independent risk marker of
This was a prospective, observational study which included 545 adult men who
underwent multi slice computed tomography (CT) coronary angiography for
suspected coronary artery disease. Patients were divided into subgroups
according to the presence or absence of coronary artery disease, and the amount
of grey / white hair.
The amount of grey hair was graded using the hair whitening score:-
1 = pure
2 = black more than white.
3 = black equals white.
4 = white more
5 = pure white.
Each patients' grade was determined by two
Data was collected on traditional cardiovascular risk factors including:-
hypertension, diabetes, smoking, dyslipidaemia, and family history of coronary
The researchers found that a high hair whitening score (grade 3 or more) was
associated with increased risk of coronary artery disease independent of
chronological age and established cardiovascular risk factors.
coronary artery disease had a statistically significant higher hair whitening
score and higher coronary artery calcification than those without coronary
In multivariate regression analysis, age, hair whitening score, hypertension and
dyslipidaemia were independent predictors of the presence of atherosclerotic
coronary artery disease.
Only age was an independent predictor of hair
"Atherosclerosis and hair greying occur through similar biological
pathways and the incidence of both increases with age. Our findings
suggest that, irrespective of chronological age, hair greying indicates
biological age and could be a warning sign of increased cardiovascular risk." said Dr Samuel.
Dr Samuel said asymptomatic patients at high risk of coronary artery disease
should have regular check ups to avoid early cardiac events by initiating
"Further research is needed, in
coordination with dermatologists, to learn more about the causative genetic and
possible avoidable environmental factors that determine hair whitening. A larger
study including men and women is required to confirm the association between
hair greying and cardiovascular disease in patients without other known
cardiovascular risk factors. If our findings are confirmed,
standardisation of the scoring system for evaluation of hair greying could be
used as a predictor for coronary artery disease." said Dr Samuel.