A new conducted research that was presented at a cardiology conference held in Europe earlier this month showed that men having more grey hair could point towards increased risk of heart disease. However, neither age nor other risk factors was linked to the effect of the grey hair.
"Ageing is an unavoidable coronary risk factor and is associated with dermatological signs that could signal increased risk," Dr. Irini Samuel, a cardiologist at Cairo University, Egypt, said in a press release.
"More research is needed on cutaneous signs of risk that would enable us to intervene earlier in the cardiovascular disease process," Dr. Samuel added.
According to the research, greying of hair and atherosclerosis portray similar mechanisms like impaired DNA repair, oxidative stress, inflammation, hormonal changes and senescence of functional cells.
Atherosclerosis refers to narrowing and hardening of arteries due to accumulation of fatty fluid within the arteries, it results in making you more prone to cardiovascular disorders.
The researchers analysed whether the presence of grey hair in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) was marker of the ailment or an independent risk.
Nearly 545 adult men were involved in this study. The researchers tested for suspected CAD in the adults with the help of multi-slice computed tomography (CT) coronary angiography. The patients were grouped on the basis of the presence or absence of CAD and the amount of grey hair they had.
Two observers graded the participants on the basis of the grey hair present on their head. The grey hair was graded according to the following hair whitening score: 1 = pure black hair, 2 = black more than white, 3 = black equals white, 4 = white more than black, and 5 = pure white.
The data about the cardiovascular risk the partakers were prone to was accumulated by the researchers on the basis of factors such as: Participants' family history of CAD, smoking, diabetes, hypertension and dyslipidaemia, ie, extremely high or extremely low levels of lipids present in the bloodstream.
The researchers drew a conclusion that men with more grey hair, who scored grade 3 or more than that were linked to higher risk of CAD. It was not related to their age or established cardiovascular risk factors.
Those men who were diagnosed with CAD were having higher hair whitening score. They also had more coronary artery calcification in comparison to those who were not having CAD.
The media release said that in multivariate regression analysis, age, hair whitening score, hypertension and dyslipidaemia were independent predictors of the presence of atherosclerotic coronary artery disease. Age was the only independent predictor of hair whitening.
Dr. Samuel said: "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."
She said that asymptomatic patients, who are at a high risk of CAD, should get themselves checked regularly to prevent heart ailments.
The reports said that a larger research is yet to be carried out which would include both men and women. The study will be conducted to establish a link between cardiovascular diseases and grey hair in patients, who don't portray any 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," Dr. Samuel added.