Deeper wrinkles on the forehead could be more than a sign of aging – they could also indicate bad news for someone's cardiovascular health.
At the annual meeting of the European Society of Cardiology in Munich, Germany, scientists presented new research that shows the connection between forehead wrinkles and heart health. People with many deep forehead wrinkles run a higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
The scientists looked at a group of 3,200 working adults of 32, 42, 52 and 62 years old when the research began. Doctors examined each participant and gave him a score based on the number of wrinkles they had and the depth of those wrinkles. Scoring someone "zero" meant a small number of wrinkles, while a score of "three" meant countless deep wrinkles.
The researchers followed the participants over the next 20 years. At that time, 233 participants died from various causes. Of those who died during the study period, 15.2 percent had scores of two or three wrinkles, 6.6 percent had one ripple and 2.1 percent had no wrinkles.
People who had scored one ripple had a slightly higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease than those without wrinkles, but those who had two or three wrinkles were almost 10 times more likely to die from the disease, even after adjusting for age, education, gender, smoking status, blood pressure, diabetes, heart rate and lipid levels.
"The higher your wrinkle score, the more your cardiovascular risk of mortality increases," said Yolande Esquirol, author and associate professor at the Center Hospitalier Universitaire de Toulouse in France, in a statement.
Scientists are not sure why this compound exists, but they think the forehead that wrinkles are a marker of atherosclerosis. According to the National Institutes of Health, atherosclerosis is the development of plaque in a person's arteries, which can reduce blood flow to your organs and possibly lead to a heart attack, stroke or death.
Because changes in collagen protein and oxidative stress both seem to play a role in atherosclerosis and wrinkles, they think they can be connected. In addition, the blood vessels in the forehead are very small and prone to build up plaque, so wrinkles on the forehead can be an early indication that the blood vessels are aging.
Examining forehead wrinkles can be an early sign and an inexpensive way to determine a person's risk of heart disease. "You can not see or feel risk factors such as high cholesterol or hypertension," said Esquirol. "We have examined wrinkles in the forehead as a marker because it is so simple and visual – just looking at someone's face can give an alarm, then we can give advice to reduce the risk."