The other three studies, comparing the cardiac health of balding men to non-balding men, showed a 70 percent bump in heart disease risk among the balding group, and an 84 percent risk for younger balding men.
What's more, a balding man's heart disease risk appeared to be dependent on the severity of his hair loss, with more severe loss translating into greater risk, the studies showed.
Yamada's team said the driving mechanism behind the connection is unknown, but they theorized that baldness could be a marker for insulin resistance, chronic inflammation or an increased sensitivity to testosterone, all of which are factors in the onset of heart disease.
Regardless, Yamada said, balding men should do what all men should do when it comes to controlling heart disease risk. "I recommend adapting a heart-healthy lifestyle that includes a low-fat diet, exercise and less stress [in order to mitigate against] classical coronary risk factors," such as age, high blood pressure, blood lipid disruption and a history of smoking, he said.
Cardiologist Dr. Gregg Fonarow, of the University of California, Los Angeles, agreed that the tried-and-true approach to heart health stands -- regardless of your hairline.
"Clearly, wearing a toupee or a hat is not going to lower the risk," he said with a chuckle. "But what is true is that well-established means of maintaining a healthy diet and weight, exercising, and watching blood pressure and cholesterol levels can all lower your risk for heart disease."
Dr. Christopher Cannon, a cardiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, agreed.
"Unfortunately, this is bad news for me personally," he said. "But if you are at a higher risk for heart disease, as I myself would appear to be, then you have to try and reduce that risk by doing the things that have long been shown to help. And stay tuned for future research that may help us understand what is underlying this."
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