New European research has found that the number of deep forehead wrinkles a person has may be linked to having a higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Carried out by researchers at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Toulouse in France, the new study looked at 3,200 adults to see if horizontal forehead wrinkles, which are a visible marker of age, were also a marker for assessing CVD risk.
The participants, who were aged 32, 42, 52 and 62 at the beginning of the study, were all assigned scores depending on the number and depth of wrinkles on their foreheads, with a score of zero meaning no wrinkles and a score of three indicating “numerous deep wrinkles.”
During a follow-up of 20 years, 233 participants died of various causes, of whom 15.2 percent had a score of two and three wrinkles. 6.6 percent had a score of one wrinkle and 2.1 percent had no wrinkles.
After taking into account potentially influencing factors such as age, gender, smoking status, blood pressure, heart rate and diabetes, the researchers found that those with a wrinkle score of one had a slightly higher risk of dying of cardiovascular disease than people with no wrinkles, while those who had wrinkle scores of two and three had almost 10 times the risk of dying compared with people who had wrinkle scores of zero.
Although the researchers noted that assessing forehead wrinkles is not a better method of assessing cardiovascular risk using existing methods, such as measuring blood pressure and lipid levels, they could be an easy, quick and low-cost way to identify people those who may be at a higher risk.
“You can’t see or feel risk factors like high cholesterol or hypertension,” said study author Yolande Esquirol. “We explored forehead wrinkles as a marker because it’s so simple and visual. Just looking at a person’s face could sound an alarm, then we could give advice to lower risk.”
“Of course, if you have a person with a potential cardiovascular risk, you have to check classical risk factors like blood pressure as well as lipid and blood glucose levels, but you could already share some recommendations on lifestyle factors.”
Although forehead wrinkles may sound like an unusual sign of CVD, previous research has already looked at whether visible signs of aging may be an indicator of CVD, finding a link between male-pattern baldness, earlobe creases, xanthelasma (pockets of cholesterol under the skin) and a higher risk of heart disease, although not with an increased risk of death.
However, crow’s feet, the wrinkles around the eyes, have not been linked with CVD risk, though these wrinkles are a result of facial movements and not just aging, which is a factor in CVD risk.
The findings were presented at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress 2018 taking place Aug. 25 to 29 in Munich, Germany. JB