Heart disease is the number one cause of death in both men and women. Many risk factors contribute to the onset of heart disease. A new study found that gray hair could be linked to heart disease and that men with unhealthy habits and graying hair should be on alert.

Gray Hair Could Be Linked to Heart Disease

About one in four people will die from heart disease and there are risk factors like obesity, high cholesterol and/or blood pressure, excess stress, and smoking habits.

A new study has found a new risk factor–gray hair could be linked to heart disease.

The study was done by the European Society of Cardiology and recently shared at the EuroPrevent 2017 by Dr. Irini Samuel.

One of the points presented was that atherosclerosis, which is the plaque build-up in the arteries, and graying hair share some of the same mechanisms. This means that each can cause inflammation, hormonal shifts, and DNA repair.

The study included 545 adult men that each received a “hair whitening score.” The score was ranked from 1-5. Men with black hair got a score of 1, men with black hair and some white hair got a score of 2, men with equal parts of black and white hair got a score of 3, men with less black hair than white got a score of 4, and men with only white hair got a score of 5.

At the conclusion of the observational study, the researchers found that men with a score of three or high had a greater association with coronary artery disease. This also excluded age and previously noted cardiovascular risk factors.

Dr. Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe, a physician in Internal Medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center added, “Individuals with an abundance of gray should not go into immediate panic mode based on the study findings. When it comes to heart health, incorporation of routine exercise and maintenance of a well-balanced diet is crucial and can contribute to improved health outcomes. Gray haired and non-gray haired individuals alike should adhere to healthy lifestyle choices promoting heart health.”

Ways to Become Heart Healthy and Happy

Though more studies need to be done, this study isn’t the first of its kind to report similar findings. Dr. Allison Larson, from the Boston Medical Center, stated, “There are several studies dating from the 1990s that have shown a link between gray hair and cardiovascular disease markers such as heart attacks and arterial thickness. From a dermatological perspective, hair turns gray because there are fewer pigment-producing cells in the hair follicle. However, other factors can be related to hair graying, such as smoking and obesity, both of which are also known to be associated with heart disease. The reason for the association with heart disease is not fully understood. In the meantime, gray-haired people should have regular check-ups with a primary care provider, maintain a healthy weight with diet and exercise, and avoid smoking.”
If you’re already graying and don’t have healthy habits, be extra careful about your heart health and take the appropriate steps to get your health back on track.