Washington: Tell-tale signs of ageing, such as baldness, baggy eyes and creased earlobes may be an early warning of heart disease, scientists claim.
In a new study, researchers found those who had three to four ageing signs - receding hairline at the temples, baldness at the head`s crown, earlobe crease and yellow fatty deposits around the eyelid (xanthelasmata) - had a 57 per cent increased risk for heart attack and a 39 per cent increased risk for heart disease.
"The visible signs of ageing reflect physiologic or biological age, not chronological age, and are independent of chronological age," said Anne Tybjaerg-Hansen, the study`s senior author and professor of clinical biochemistry at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.
Researchers analysed 10,885 participants 40 years and older (45 per cent women) in the Copenhagen Heart Study. Of these, 7,537 had frontoparietal baldness (receding hairline at the temples), 3,938 had crown top baldness, 3,405 had earlobe crease, and 678 had fatty deposits around the eye.
In 35 years of follow-up, 3,401 participants developed heart disease and 1,708 had a heart attack.
Individually and combined, these signs predicted heart attack and heart disease independent of traditional risk factors. Fatty deposits around the eye were the strongest individual predictor of both heart attack and heart disease.
Heart attack and heart disease risk increased with each additional sign of ageing in all age groups and among men and women. The highest risk was for those in their 70s and those with multiple signs of ageing.
Researchers noted the quantity of grey hair, prominence of wrinkles, the type and extent of baldness, the presence of earlobe crease and eyelid deposits.
"Checking these visible ageing signs should be a routine part of every doctor`s physical examination," Tybjaerg-Hansen said in a statement.
The research was presented at the American Heart Association`s Scientific Sessions 2012.