More gray hair linked to higher risk of heart disease

11 April, 2017

Greying hair and coronary heart disease share some of the same mechanisms that come with ageing. A new observational study links the two events, suggesting that grey hair may be an indicator of heart disease.

In atherosclerosis, plaque - which is made of cholesterol, fat, calcium, and other substances - starts building up inside the blood vessels. With time, this plaque becomes calcified, limiting the elasticity of the arteries and the supply of blood to the heart and other vital organs in the body.

If untreated, atherosclerosis may cause serious heart conditions including stroke, heart attack, and even heart failure.

One of the main cardiovascular events connected with atherosclerosis is coronary artery disease, also called coronary heart disease. This disease occurs as a consequence of plaque building up inside the coronary arteries - the two main blood-supplying arteries that start from the heart's aorta.

It is well-known that ageing is a risk factor for heart disease. Furthermore, atherosclerosis and greying hair have similar causes: the damaged DNA that comes with ageing, increased oxidative stress, and the ageing of cells.

A new observational study - presented at the EuroPrevent 2017 conference of the European Society of Cardiology - suggests that the amount of grey hair in adult men is correlated with an increased risk of heart disease.