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Physical effects of aging may be symptom of raised heart disease risk

November 8, 2012

Hair loss and wrinkles are some of the most talked about effects of getting older, and while some may view them as more of an annoyance, a new study suggest that they could be an indicator of heart health. Findings presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions showed that people who showed four distinct signs of aging had a higher risk of heart attack and heart disease.

Researchers focused on four common signs of aging - receding hairline, baldness at the crown of the head, creases in the earlobe and fatty deposits under the eyes - and found that people who had three or more of these  symptoms were at the greatest risk for cardiovascular issues. The results were drawn from the analysis of nearly 11,000 people age 40 or older.

"The visible signs of aging reflect physiologic or biological age, not chronological age, and are independent of chronological age," said study senior author Dr. Anne Tybjaerg-Hansen. "Checking these visible aging signs should be a routine part of every doctor's physical examination."

The study highlights the importance of making managing cardiovascular risk factors part of a healthy lifestyle for seniors, especially since 84 percent of adults 65 and older eventually die from heart disease. However, there are a variety of ways for older adults to reduce their chances of developing the condition.

For starters, managing blood pressure and high cholesterol is essential. There are a number of paths to doing both, but regular physical activity and a low-fat diet - two cornerstones of healthy aging - are best, reports It's also crucial for seniors to keep their stress levels low to limit their risk of heart disease, and exercise is a good way to reduce anxiety levels.