When you think about checking for heart disease what probably comes to mind are expensive exams such as stress tests on a treadmill while hooked up to a high-tech electrocardiogram, cardiac catheterization or a coronary calcium CT scan. But a low-tech inexpensive look in the mirror may be more revealing than you ever imagined.
A new study just published in the journal BMJ Open suggests that hair loss on the crown of the head might be an indicator of underlying heart disease. The investigators pooled data from six prior observational studies. A receding hair line was less problematic than baldness on the top to rear of the head (crown or “vertex” of the head). The increased risk was not huge (30 to 50%) but it was statistically significant. “Frontal” baldness was not linked to heart disease.
Another signal of heart disease may be an earlobe crease. Here is a link to see what it looks like. Researchers have been noticing an association between an earlobe crease and heart disease for nearly 40 years. The most recent report of a link came from the American Heart Association Meetings last fall. Danish investigators analyzed data from more than 10,000 volunteers participating in the Copenhagen Heart Study. Baldness on the top of the head and earlobe creases were associated with heart disease. Fatty deposits around the eyes were an additional signal of possible heart problems.
No one really has any good explanation for why hair loss or earlobe creases might be early warning signs of heart disease. The BMJ Open article proposes that high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and atherosclerosis might also influence hair loss. That seems like a stretch. Another possible explanation is that insulin resistance leads to male pattern baldness and heart disease. Still another hypothesis is a pro-inflammatory condition is contributing to both hair loss and damage to artery walls in the heart. It has also been proposed that higher levels of male hormones (androgens) in the scalp and heart are the trigger underlying baldness and heart disease.

The Bottom Line:

What’s a man to do if he has both baldness at the crown of the head as well as earlobe creases? First, do not freak out. But if you have any symptoms of heart disease such as chest pain or shortness of breath after exercise, do check in with your doctor for more extensive testing. Do discuss your risk factors with your doctor. Finally, use these “markers” as a wakeup call to exercise, eat right and generally clean up your act. It would be great if we all take advantage of the “mirror test” opportunity to improve our health.
To learn more about some important steps you can take for heart health check out our book Quick & Handy Home Remedies From The People’s Pharmacy. It has some great recommendations about foods that can make a huge difference in your path to a heart healthy diet.
Here are some comments from visitors to our website about the earlobe crease connection:

“I remember when this info came out years ago. It was put in the category that honey heals wounds, cinnamon helped diabetes, keys down somebody’s back could stop nosebleed and blah, blah.
“I think that many, many old wives tales will be proven more and more.
Love, love lllllove your info. I inherited mama’s copies of your books since the 1980’s.”
S.H.


“I have the crease in both ears – very prominent! Yet I do not have heart disease. I have had stress tests and also had the doctor look inside the blood vessels. No problem. So I could imagine if I had not had these tests your article would really have caused a lot of stress. I do not doubt the article but it is clearly possible to have these creases predominately in both ears and not have heart disease.”
Carl


 

“I definitely have heart trouble. I had by-pass surgery (5 bypasses) fifteen years ago after two heart attacks. Two years ago, I had an ICD put in. My left ear lobe has the diagonal crease but not the right ear lobe. I also have type II diabetes and low thyroid. Age: 73. I exercise, eat a Mediterranean diet, and take a ton of pills and supplements. My father and brother both had type II diabetes and died of strokes. My father died at age 79 and my brother at age 80.
“Neither of them exercised much after retirement but their diets were reasonably good. My mother died of heart failure at age 90 and did not have diabetes. She was active throughout her life and did her own housework up until a year before her death. She loved vegetables. My major issue is that I cannot tolerate statins and have cholesterol levels over 200. As a result, I am focusing on exercising, having a good social life and positive attitude, and sticking to the Mediterranean diet.”
M.V.

To learn more about what the Mediterranean diet is all about with specific food dos and don’ts, don’t forget to check out Quick & Handy Home Remedies. You will also find some delicious recipes that follow the Mediterranean approach!

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  1. AMC
    Reply

    I’ve been a paramedic for the last 30 years. I’ve know about ELC since the late 80’s, but only superficially through a casual conversation with a cardiologist. Ever since that time I always took an interest in any patient I treated for cardiac related problems and found that the incidence of ELC in these people to be phenomenally high.
    As I mentioned, I not a researcher by any stretch of the imagination, so I have only empirical evidence between the incidence of ELC and cardiovascular disease. But I have some personal experience in the area. In the late 90’s I developed two creased in my R earlobe and one in my L. In 2005 I had an MI and had an angioplasty procedure and 4 stents inserted into the affected coronary arteries.
    Approx 5 days later the earlobe creases in both ears had completely disappeared. Three years ago I started to notice a crease begin to develop in my R earlobe. Last year I again experience chest pains and had an angiogram procedure done. It showed that I had developed a new, moderate narrowing within the R coronary artery. They decided to manage the blockage with medications rather than stents and angioplasty this time.
    The single crease is still there, and of late is becoming more pronounced. I for one am absolutely convinced that there is a definite correlation between ELC and cardiovascular disease. I would love to see more studies conducted in this area as I’m sure it has a place in the diagnostic toolbox of medical practitioner.

  2. Peter R.
    Reply

    I have creases in both ear lobes. At first, when I was younger, I only had the crease in my left ear lobe, but now I have one on the right too. I’ve had two small heart attacks, caused from a block in my right coronary artery, but I naturally have low blood cholesterol and the blood pressure of a teenager. The crown of my head is exceptionally thick and full, I just have a recession in the frontal hairline that has stopped receding many years ago.

  3. Becky
    Reply

    I am a 30 year old female. I don’t have any trouble with thinning hair but I do have very pronounced ear creases. I suffer from constant headaches and fatigue. There is a history of heart disease in my family. My maternal great grandmother died of heart failure. Just wondering if I should be concerned??
    Peoples Pharmacy response: At 30 years old, you have enough time to address your cardiovascular risks with diet, exercise, and supplementation or medications if necessary. There is no need to panic, but your ear creases are a wake-up call to work diligently to overcome the family history. Best of luck!

  4. AC
    Reply

    For what it is worth…..
    A few years ago (I am 42 now), I was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. After that, I began reading a lot more about heart conditions and heart disease, and came across articles about the “ear crease”. I looked in the mirror and had very pronounced creases in both ears. Shortly after, to help reduce the chance of stroke, my doctor put me on aspirin therapy…. one full-dose (325 mg), safety coated (to protect my stomach) aspirin per day. About 4 months later, I noticed that the ear creases were gone.
    I have no way to know if there is a direct correlation, but I can’t help but think the aspirin had something to do with it. And, I haven’t really changed my diet or exercise routine. Hopefully, the aspirin is helping.

  5. andrea
    Reply

    sometimes earlobe creases are caused by the way we sleep…..
    I work on health care and I see many with heart problems that have the crease and is pronounced ….
    others have a faint line.
    oriental diagnosis is the best to predict what is going on with your health….
    See what you are doing wrong and change your life style take the right supplements, right diet walk, meditation and watch Dr.Oz
    Andrea

  6. JP
    Reply

    As a health professional, with training as an Ayurvedic Doctor’s Assistant, and as an ACMOS Acupuncturist, I have some insights on this study.
    In classical Indian medicine, when a person has what is called a Pitta constitution, or body type, they are prone to baldness/grey hair and can develop digestive/heart problems when imbalanced.
    In Chinese medicine, the crease in the ear lobe indicates low Chi.
    Prevention in both these modalities is very effective.

  7. JLH
    Reply

    My husband has this crease in the ear and has had a heart attack. Saw the creases on a friends ear and mentioned that he should get checked out. He said he had been to the Dr and all his tests came back negative and even his cholesterol was very good. Six months later he had the heart attack. I can modify the creases that occasionally start in my ear lobes by reducing carbs and sugar. They go away.

  8. Jen
    Reply

    My husband has faint creases in both earlobes plus a small hole where his right ear joins the side of his head. Doctors have never really said if the two are related. His dad had a triple bypass operation 5 years ago so I will be sending my husband of to our MD for a checkup just in case

  9. Michael G., WA Australia
    Reply

    But what do ear lobe creases form?
    I would speculate that ear creases would be caused by habitual supporting the head on the hand with an elbow on a table or desk. This might reflect habitually working in a physically or emotionally fatigued state (i.e long hours) probably further complicated by poor fitness levels.
    This would certainly be associated with higher cardiovascular risk factors independent of a direct relationship between the ear and the heart.

  10. jla
    Reply

    I’ve been a side sleeper for most of my 71 years. I contribute the creases in my ear lobes to being squashed in a pillow 8 hours a night.
    Female baldness starting at the top of my head and going towards the rear. I’ve always had fine hair, not thick, and I contribute the hair loss to medicines I’ve been given for COPD and cholesterol. I also have irregular heart beats because of the pulmonary meds.
    I’ve known too many friends who have suffered heart attacks without having creases.
    IMO, all this hype is due to a slow month in the news of medicine world and to the drug companies wanting more dollars.

  11. Rkatrin
    Reply

    Bosh and Flapdoodle

  12. alan
    Reply

    my mom told me about the LEFT earlobe crease MANY years ago; told me it was known as a marker before I was born (during WWII).
    I was in my 20s at the time & had no crease. In my late 50s I did have it, just not very pronounced. Had my heart attack in 2006, after testosterone therapy, & drugs for hypertension & high cholesterol. Stent, rehab, & back to regular workouts.
    doin’ pretty good, now.

    • jesse
      oregon
      Reply

      Alan, you believe your testosterone therapy contributed to your heart attack? There is so much evidence pointing to heart health. Just curious how they discovered this played a role? Thank you.

  13. SG
    Reply

    I have earlobe creases and asked my internist about the connection to heart trouble and she quickly dismissed it as being incorrect information. I have also read that since most people are older when they contract heart disease they have wrinkles in their earlobes as well as other areas – my heart is fine!

  14. DS
    Reply

    Perhaps being male leads to male pattern baldness but then since they didn’t do a study on THAT I guess they think it’s not statistically significant.
    Hmmm. Could a comb-over combat heart disease????

  15. Carrie
    Reply

    I always thought make pattern baldness was hereditary along with female as well. And I’m not sure I get how this ear lobe crease is suppose to look like. I don’t get it from the picture shown.
    I have cartilage along the walls of the ear that stick up and out and make points and shadows, but again ear shapes are influenced by genetic traits. As well as heat disease. So if heart disease runs in the family you are at risk, but first mean you will have it. And if you have have these other traits as well you might be at risk as well. I think the indication is to be armed with taking care of your health of you have a genetic predisposition to hear disease. And quite frankly people over 70 are just at risk, aren’t they? I don’t mean to be rude but the human body is not infallible.

  16. FP
    Reply

    I have a very faint crease across both earlobes, but they run right across the piercing so it’s difficult to notice. I’m on a statin, aspirin, watch what I eat, etc. The last stress test was OK. I’m 82. Now what?

  17. Betty F.
    Reply

    A man with heart disease told me this and I went home and checked my husband’s ears. Wonderful, they had no crease. I watched his ears regularly and saw no crease. About 15 years after I first checked, he had a heart attack. I checked his ears again and yes, there was the crease in his ears. So which came first? the attack or the crease? In this case the attack came first.

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