Could Graying Hair Predict Heart Disease?

When you discover your first gray hairs, it is always a bit surprising. You begin to think of yourself in terms of how old you look, and not immediately concerned with your health. Recently, however, Egyptian cardiologists have investigated whether or not there is a relationship between the amount of gray hairs in men and onset of heart related diseases.

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Dr. Irini Samuel, who is a cardiologist at the Cairo University, conducted research to shed some light on the connection. She explains, “Aging 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.”

Her study took place in Egypt. She tested a sample of 545 men who were specifically in the hospital for heart health testing. Each of the 545 men was rated on a scale from one to five to rate the hair color. One on the scale would indicate a full black hair color with no white at all; whereas a five would indicate almost total gray/white hair. After collecting this data, Dr. Samuel then gathered data on other health problems patients suffered from and checked their CT scans.

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What she found was that patients who were older had more frequent coronary problems; this is not surprising. The interesting result was that when she would control for age and other conditions, she still was able to associate more gray with worse heart health.

This is promising initial research, but there is still a lot of work to be done in order to create a consistent and standardized method of measurement. So far, the only way to have any indication at heart disease risk is from evaluation of cholesterol and high blood pressure. However, no one has ever linked those to hair color changes. Thus, more research is certainly needed to learn what other relationships can be developed to gain further insight about the connection between the way we look and what it means for our health.