Plague accumulates in a cardiovascular condition called atherosclerosis, inside the arteries, causing them less elastic. Over time, this limits the supply of oxygenated blood to the vital organs of the body, which in turn may lead to a range of diseases.
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When plaque gathers inside the coronary arteries, it causes coronary heart disease and even heart attacks may result.
Some of the main risk factors for atherosclerosis include smoking, hypertension (high blood pressure), high levels of cholesterol, insulin resistance, age, physical inactivity, and a family history of heart disease.
Now, a new research presented at the 2018 annual conference of the European Society of Cardiology, in Munich, Germany has added another risk factor to the list which is “deep forehead wrinkles”.
According to the study author Yolande Esquirol, an associate professor of occupational health at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Toulouse in France, “You can’t see or feel risk factors like high cholesterol or hypertension. 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,” she stated.
Cardiovascular death risk 10 times higher
Esquirol and the team of researchers examined forehead wrinkles in 3,200 healthy adults, aged 32–62. The researchers assessed the participants’ wrinkles by applying a score ranging from 0 (“no wrinkles”) to 3 (“numerous deep wrinkles”).
The scientists clinically observed the participants for 2 decades and about 233 participants died of various conditions during that time.
The research revealed a directly proportional link between wrinkle score and risk of dying from a cardiovascular problem.
While a wrinkle score of 1 elevated cardiovascular death risk only slightly, people with a wrinkle score of 2 and 3 were almost 10 times more likely to die a cardiovascular death than people with wrinkle scores of 0.
Could wrinkles be a sign of atherosclerosis?
The researchers speculate that the missing link between wrinkle scores and the probability of cardiovascular death may be atherosclerosis.
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They base this theory on the fact that both wrinkles and atherosclerosis are subject to oxidative stress and changes in collagen protein levels.
The scientists also explain that blood vessels in the forehead are mostly fine, which could mean they are more sensitive to the buildup of plaque that is a symbol of atherosclerosis.
The authors finally suggested that forehead wrinkles could be an easier and much less costly way of determining whether someone has the condition than lipid tests and blood pressure measurements.
“Forehead wrinkles may be a marker of atherosclerosis,” says Esquirol. “This is the first time a link has been established between cardiovascular risk and forehead wrinkles, so the results require to be confirmed in future studies,” she adds.