Can Gray Hair Predict Risk of Coronary Artery Disease?

Hair graying shares similar mechanisms to impaired DNA repair, oxidative stress, and senescence of functional cells
Hair graying shares similar mechanisms to impaired DNA repair, oxidative stress, and senescence of functional cells

The prevalence of gray hair in a man may be tied to his risk of coronary artery disease. The finding comes from new research presented at EuroPrevent 2017, in Spain.

Noting how atherosclerosis and hair graying share similar mechanisms such as impaired DNA repair, oxidative stress, inflammation, hormonal changes and senescence of functional cells, researchers from Cairo University conducted an observational study of 545 adult men.

The participants underwent a multi-slice computed tomography (CT) coronary angiography for suspected coronary artery diseases and were subsequently divided into groups graded on the amount of gray/white hair they had (score 1-5; 5=pure white) and the presence or absence of coronary artery disease.

Data on traditional cardiovascular risk factors was also collected including hypertension, diabetes, smoking, dyslipidemia, and family history. 

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The analysis found that men who had the same amount of gray hair or more than their original hair color had an increased risk of coronary artery disease independent of chronological age and established cardiovascular risk factors.

A multivariate regression analysis showed that age, hair whitening score, hypertension and dyslipidemia were independent predictors of the presence of atherosclerotic coronary artery disease, with only age being an independent predictor of hair whitening.

“Atherosclerosis and hair graying occur through similar biological pathways and the incidence of both increases with age,” said Dr. Irini Samuel, lead author who presented the study findings. “Our findings suggest that, irrespective of chronological age, hair graying indicates biological age and could be a warning sign of increased cardiovascular risk.”

The authors acknowledged that more research is needed to confirm this association with hair graying, involving dermatology experts and a study population that includes women. Dr. Samuel concluded, “If our findings are confirmed, standardization of the scoring system for evaluation of hair graying could be used as a predictor for coronary artery disease.”

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