Some visible signs of aging may point to heart disease

Reading about the results of the Copenhagen City Heart Study made us pause and think hard about how we look at visible signs of aging - something we study every day at AprilAge.  According to the findings presented at the American Heart Association, certain aspects of looking old on the outside might be a clue to what’s going on inside your body.   The study finds that people who have three or four physical signs of aging — a receding hairline, baldness, a crease in the earlobe, or  yellow fatty deposits around the eyelid— also have a 57 percent increased risk for heart attack and a 39 percent increased risk for heart disease.

Looking at the test subjects both individually and as a group, researchers found that the identified signs of aging were  predictors of heart attack and heart disease, or both, without considering traditional risk factors, such as high-blood pressure, cholesterol, smoking, physical inactivity or obesity.   In particular, the study found that fatty deposits around the eye were the strongest single predictor of both heart attack and heart disease.

“The visible signs of aging reflect physiologic or biological age, not chronological age, and are independent of chronological age,” said Anne Tybjærg-Hansen, M.D., the study’s senior author and professor of clinical biochemistry at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.  Tybjærg-Hansen and her colleagues studied nearly 11,000 test participants as part of the Copenhagen City Heart Study. They were 40 or older, and almost half were women.   “Checking these visible aging signs should be a routine part of every doctor’s physical examination,” Tybjærg-Hansen said.