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Could an Aging Face Reflect an Unhealthy Heart?
Date:11/6/2012

By E.J. Mundell
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Nov. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Anxious about those telltale signs of aging? A new study gives you one more reason to worry: Facial aging might point to worsening cardiovascular health.

The Danish study found that people who had three or four signs of aging -- fatty deposits around the eyelids, receding hairlines, baldness, and creased earlobes -- were 39 percent more likely to develop heart disease and 57 percent more likely to have a heart attack over 35 years of follow-up, compared to people of similar age who looked younger.

"Looking old for your age is a good marker for poor cardiovascular health," said study lead author Dr. Anne Tybjaerg-Hansen, a professor of clinical biochemistry at the University of Copenhagen. She presented the findings Tuesday in Los Angeles at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association (AHA).

According to Tybjaerg-Hansen, many doctors explicitly or unconsciously take into account how old patients look for their age when assessing their health. The idea behind this is that a prematurely aged person must be less healthy than someone who has retained the bloom of youth into middle or old age.

"But, really, it's not really well-examined whether this is correct," she said at an AHA press briefing.

To find out, her team looked at aging signs in nearly 11,000 people aged 40 or older who were taking part in the Copenhagen City Heart Study, which began in the late 1970s. The researchers looked at common signs of aging such as wrinkles, graying hair, receding hairline at the temples, baldness at the top of the head (typically for men), earlobe creasing, and yellow deposits of cholesterol around the eyelids (called xanthelasmata).

Tracked over 35 years, about 3,400 participants developed heart disease and more than 1,700 had a heart attack.

Certain aging signs seemed related to normal chronological aging, but not heart
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