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Tuesday, 25 January, 2000, 21:30 GMT
No hair, bad heart
Balding men stand a greater risk of developing heart disease than those with a full head of hair, say researchers.

Hair loss as an indicator of heart disease is not a new area of research.

But the 11-study at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, US, is the largest of its kind to date.

More than 22,000 male physicians involved in the Physicians' Health Study answered questions on their health and baldness over an 11-year period.

Researchers, whose findings were published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, said they found "a strong relationship" between coronary heart disease and hair loss.

In a survey, 61% of those who had coronary episodes were balding
Out of the total number of doctors questioned, 1,500 had experienced a coronary event - and of those, 62% were balding.

Whats more, the type of baldness also seemed to have an impact on the likelihood to develop heart disease.

Those with frontal baldness had a 9% increased chance of getting heart disease.

And compared to men with no hair loss, men whose crowns were completely bald had a 36% greater risk of having a coronary event, including a heart attack and angina.

Men with mild crown balding had a 23% greater risk, rising to 32% when balding became moderate.

The study said there were several potential explanations for the link.

One theory centres on the elevated levels of male hormones associated with baldness.

Receding hairlines bode slightly better than bald spots
Bald men seem to have a greater number of androgen receptors in their scalps , and androgens may contribute to both atheroscelrosis - build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries - and thrombosis, a susceptibility to blood clots.

Researchers also say that heart disease and baldness may be inherited together.

And they recommended that bald men should be monitored more closely for heart problems.

Author Paulo Lotufo said: "Although early vertex baldness may be a non-modifiable risk factor for coronary heart disease, it may serve as a useful clinical marker to identify men at increased risk who may benefit from aggressive screening and primary prevention efforts directed toward other known modifiable risk factors for coronary heart disease."

But heart health campaigners say that the research detracts from the real reasons for heart disease - poor diet, smoking and sedentary lifestyles.

See also:

25 Oct 99 | Health
Baldness 'cure' by-passes NHS
04 Mar 99 | Health
Brain growth linked to baldness
20 Jan 00 | Health
Mondays 'bring heart attacks'
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