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Apr 13, 2017 12:53 PM EDT

Egyptian cardiologist warns men that gray hair could indicate a higher risk for coronary artery disease. Coronary risk factor may show up as dermatological signs, which includes the hair color. Cairo University's Dr. Irini Samuel suggests more research should be conducted on the cutaneous signs to find out if earlier detection could lead to intervention before the cardiovascular disease worsens.

To find out if the graying of hair could be an indication for cardiovascular health, she observed the hair color among 545 men who were being in the hospital for certain coronary conditions, IFL Science reported. Most of the men started out with black hair, since men in Egypt usually have this hair color. She also gathered data on other coronary risk indicators, including high blood pressure, family history, smoking, and diabetes.

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Atherosclerosis and the graying of hair has the same mechanisms like hormonal changes, inflammation, oxidative stress, impaired DNA repair, and problems on functional cells, Eurek Alert reported. Older men usually have gray hair, which is why it is common for them to have worse heart conditions. However, the study found that high blood pressure and high cholesterol do not relate to the graying of hair.

Samuel said there is no clear mechanism yet and more study is needed on genetic and environmental causes found in the hair color among men. However, her study shows strong evidence that men with whose hair are starting to turn gray should get regular check-ups and should start living a healthier lifestyle. Samuel said the graying of hair is associated to biological age, which could also be an indicating of higher cardiovascular risk.

She said that if their findings confirm the connection between coronary risk factors and gray hair then specialists could use it to predict coronary artery diseases among men. There are no studies, however, that could connect the graying of hair and the increased risk of heart disease among women.

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