They say that our health is reflected in our hair, nails and skin and now, a new study has linked hair appearance to a possible cardiac event.
According to researchers, stress hormones in our hair can predict the likelihood of having a heart attack or stroke, and the likelihood increases to more than three times in those aged 57 and younger.
The Dutch research team that conducted the study tested long-term levels of hair cortisol in the scalp, as well as the long-term levels of its inactive form, hair cortisone, to determine if they can be used as markers to indicate the presence or severity of stress in individuals.
These hormones have been linked to the regulation of fat distribution in the body. Yet there's limited and inconclusive evidence regarding their specific effect on the development of cardiovascular disease.
The study was presented at the recent European Congress on Obesity (ECO) in Dublin, Ireland.
Over 167,000 participants took part in the study
As part of the study, researchers analyzed data from cortisol and cortisone levels in over 6,000 hair samples obtained from adult men and women who participated in the multigenerational study called Lifelines. This study included a large group of over 167,000 participants living in the northern regions of the Netherlands.
In the study, hair samples from the participants were analyzed, and a follow-up analysis was performed over the course of five to seven years to investigate the long-term relationship between cortisol and cortisone levels and cardiovascular diseases. Study participants had at least 133 cardiovascular events during the study period.
People with high levels of cortisol and cortisone had double the increased risk of experiencing a cardiovascular event in their lifetime, and this number was even higher for people aged 57 and younger.
Yet for those aged 57 and older, no strong association was observed between hair cortisone and cortisol levels and cardiovascular disease.
Study author Professor Elisabeth van Rossum of Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam said that researchers hoped that hair analysis may be used as a test to help doctors identify people at high risk of cardiovascular disease in order to come up with a new treatment approach in the future.
She stated that researchers hope that hair analysis may eventually be useful as a test that can help doctors determine those at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Then, perhaps in the future focusing on the effects of stress hormones in the body may become the place to target treatment.