Baldness Linked to Heart Disease Risk
Men with male pattern baldness—the type that starts at the crown, not the hairline—got some bad news last week. A new study published in BMJ Open, an online publication of the British Medical Association, concluded that baldness is linked to an increased risk of developing coronary heart disease (CHD). This is not entirely surprising. Researchers have long suspected such a link.
The study mined data gathered from six previous studies, and included data from more than 36,000 men with male pattern baldness. Men with receding hairlines needn’t worry: The study found no association between age-associated hair loss that begins at the hairline and risk of heart disease.
But men with so-called “vertex” baldness—which starts at the top of the crown and usually progresses outward—had a higher risk of CHD. Even worse, the risk of CHD evidently increases with increasing baldness. Men with “severe” baldness had about a 50 percent greater risk of developing CHD than men of a similar age with no such hair loss. Investigators concluded that vertex baldness may, therefore, be a distinct marker of CHD, reflecting systemic atherosclerosis.
CHD occurs when atherosclerosis causes blockages in one or more of the arteries that supply blood to the heart itself. Atherosclerosis, or “hardening of the arteries” is an inflammatory condition that affects the linings of blood vessels. It has previously been linked to oxidized LDL-cholesterol in the bloodstream, but the causes of atherosclerosis are complex. It is the underlying cause of most cardiovascular disease. And heart disease is still the number one killer among men and women alike.
Yamada T, Hara K, Umematsu H, Kadowaki T. Male pattern baldness and its association with coronary heart disease: a meta-analysis. BMJ Open. 2013 Apr 3;3(4). pii: e002537. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2012-002537. Print 2013.