“Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death worldwide,” said study corresponding author Dr. Irini Samuel, a researcher in the Department of Cardiology at Cairo University, Egypt.
“Aging is an unavoidable coronary risk factor and is associated with dermatological signs that could be a marker for an increased coronary risk.”
“We tested the hypothesis that hair graying as a visible marker of aging is associated with risk of coronary artery disease (CAD) independent of chronological age.”
Dr. Samuel and co-authors assessed the prevalence of gray hair in patients with CAD and whether it was an independent risk marker of disease.
The researchers analyzed the data from 545 adult men who underwent multi-slice computed tomography (CT) coronary angiography for suspected CAD.
The participants were divided into subgroups according to the presence or absence of CAD, and the amount of gray/white hair.
“The amount of gray hair was graded using the hair whitening score: 1 – pure black hair, 2 – black more than white, 3 – black equals white, 4 – white more than black, and 5 – pure white,” the authors explained.
They found that a high hair whitening score (grade 3 or more, predominately white hair) was associated with increased risk of CAD independent of chronological age and established cardiovascular risk factors.
Patients with CAD had a statistically significant higher hair whitening score and higher coronary artery calcification than those without CAD.
In multivariate regression analysis, age, hair whitening score, hypertension and dyslipidaemia were independent predictors of the presence of atherosclerotic CAD. Only age was an independent predictor of hair whitening.
“Atherosclerosis and hair graying occur through similar biological pathways and the incidence of both increases with age,” Dr. Samuel said.
“Our findings suggest that, irrespective of chronological age, hair graying indicates biological age and could be a warning sign of increased cardiovascular risk.”
Amr Elfaramawy et al. 2017. The degree of hair graying in male gender as an independent risk factor for coronary artery disease, a prospective study. European Journal of Preventive Cardiology 24 (Supplement 1): S168; doi: 10.1177/2047487317703555