A French study shows for the first time a link between forehead wrinkles and atherosclerosis, a disease that increases the risk of cardiovascular accidents. Therefore, simple screening of people at risk could be implemented to prevent the aggravation of this common arterial disease.
The new study by Yolande Esquirol, Associate Professor of Occupational Health at the University Hospital Centre of Toulouse, and recently presented at the European Congress of Cardiology, ESC 2018, shows that forehead wrinkles can be a quick and easy way to identify people at risk of developing atherosclerosis complications.
Atherosclerosis: cause of coronary heart disease and heart attacks
Arteriosclerosis is a disease of the arteries, characterized by the appearance of “atheromatous plaques” on the inner walls of the arteries, which are mainly composed of fatty substances and fibrin that narrow the lumen of the arteries. This arterial disease can lead to more serious problems such as a heart attack or stroke.
The main risk factors for this disease are smoking, high cholesterol, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, physical inactivity, age and family history of heart disease, which are not always easy to diagnose quickly.
Wrinkles on the forehead: a quick and easy indicator
For this reason, Professor Esquirol’s discovery, presented at the annual conference of the European Society of Cardiology in Munich in 2018, may facilitate the diagnosis.
“We explore forehead wrinkles as an indicator of these risk factors because it is simple and visual. Just look at a person’s face to trigger the alarm, so we can give advice on how to reduce the risks,” he adds.
A wrinkle index
To conduct this study, Yolande Esquirol and her colleagues examined forehead wrinkles in 3,200 healthy adults aged 32 to 62 years. The researchers evaluated the participants’ wrinkles using a scoring system ranging from 0 (“no wrinkles”) to 3 (“many deep wrinkles”). Patients were followed for 20 years, during which 233 participants died from various diseases.
Overall, the research revealed a directly proportional relationship between the level of wrinkle score and the risk of dying from a cardiovascular problem. Patients with wrinkle score levels of 2 and 3 were almost 10 times more likely to die of cardiovascular disease than those with wrinkle score levels of 0.
Other visual markers in the diagnosis of cardiovascular disease
This is not the first time facial features have been explored as potential markers of cardiovascular health. Previous studies have shown that male pattern baldness and premature graying are associated with a 5-fold increased risk of heart disease.
Forehead wrinkles can be a simple and inexpensive way to determine whether a patient has atherosclerosis. “Forehead wrinkles can be an indicator of atherosclerosis,” says Yolande Esquirol. “This is the first time that a relationship between cardiovascular risk and forehead wrinkles has been established, so the results need to be confirmed in future studies,” she says. “But the study could now be used in medical studies and clinics. It costs nothing and there is no risk,” concludes the author of this study.
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