Wrinkles are a pretty inevitable feature of the aging process, but rather than focusing on hiding the fine lines, new research points to a new reason to pay close attention to them. It turns out deeper-than-normal forehead creases might indicate bad news for heart health.
In an unpublished study involving more than 3,200 participants presented at the European Society of Cardiology's annual conference in Munich, Germany, researchers found that numerous deep forehead wrinkles are associated with an increased risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death for both men and women. After following the participants for 20 years, it became clear that those with some forehead lines were five times more likely to die of heart disease, while those with many deep wrinkles were 10 times more likely to die of heart disease compared to those with no forehead wrinkles at all.
Now, just because you have forehead wrinkles doesn't mean you're definitely at risk. Rather, the feature is simply a indicators to check for other heart-related symptoms. "You can't see or feel risk factors like high cholesterol or hypertension. We explored forehead wrinkles as a marker because it's so simple and visual. Just looking at a person's face could sound an alarm, then we could give advice to lower risk," says study author Yolande Esquirol, PhD, in a press release. "Of course, if you have a person with a potential cardiovascular risk, you have to check classical risk factors like blood pressure as well as lipid and blood glucose levels."
"You can't see or feel risk factors like high cholesterol or hypertension. We explored forehead wrinkles as a marker because it's so simple and visual. Just looking at a person's face could sound an alarm, then we could give advice to lower risk." —study author Yolande Esquirol, PhD
So far, researchers think atherosclerosis, when the arteries harden due to an increase in plaque, might explain the association between wrinkles and heart disease—particularly because oxidative stress and changes in collagen protein play a role in both features. Since it's the first time this connection has been made, Dr. Esquirol says future studies will need to dig deeper to fully confirm the findings. But for now, embrace your wrinkles as a free and easy way to keep your health in check.
You don't have to wait for deep forehead wrinkles to pop up to alert you of heart disease, though: There are plenty of preventative measures you can take now to help lower your risk. According to the Mayo Clinic, not smoking or using tobacco, managing your stress through things like meditation, exercising for at least 30 minutes most days of the week, getting seven to nine hours of sleep every night, and eating a heart-healthy diet rich in fruits, veggies, and whole grains—and low in sources of saturated and trans fats, like red meat, fried food, and dairy products—could help keep your heart healthy for years to come.
Jennifer Lopez's cardio workout of choice is one of the best ways to get your heart pumping. Or check out the ketogenic diet staple that could decrease your risk of heart disease.
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