Monitoring heart disease: look at your hair


Doctors have a new way to monitor your risk of heart disease: look at your hair.

It might sound silly, but doctors say a man's grey hair is a good marker for potential heart problems.

Working in partnership with our parent company, Sinclair Broadcast Group, we believe it's a privilege and a responsibility to serve you.

In this 'Sinclair Cares' report, Molly Shen explains why men should take note of their hair color.

Bill Ruth is a bit of a regular at the Swedish Heart Institute.

His first visit was in 1979.

"They determined that I had a blockage, and I was, men are in denial of things like that. I said, 'geez, that can't be.'"

Bill didn't believe it, because he was only 45 years old at the time and thought that seemed too young for heart problems.

Right after surgery, he did look young.

By his early 50's...

"Your hair was greying," said Bill's wife, Susan. "It was starting to grey."

Doctors say that's significant because when a man starts looking older on the outside, he's probably showing more signs of aging internally too.

Researchers tested that idea by analyzing the hair color and heart health of 500 men.

No grey hair? Those men were less likely to have a coronary artery disease.

But heart risk went up when men had salt and pepper hair or were all grey, regardless of their age.

"I think if you're starting to go grey and you're still younger, then it's probably a good idea to think about seeing your doctor about getting some screening test done to evaluate for coronary disease," said Cardiologist Dr. John O'Mara.

Dr. O'Mara says the grey hair test is a valuable tool - because it's a quick and easy way to know someone could be at higher risk for heart problems.

And while you can't do much about going grey, you can slow down heart disease.

"I still think diet and exercise are far more important than this, and you can do a lot more in terms of prevention with diet and exercise."

Now at 83 years old, Bill Ruth has a lot more grey hair, but he's also staying on top of his heart health.

The study is part of research conducted by the European Society of Cardiology, which was presented at a special conference earlier this year.

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