Male-pattern baldness and premature greying of hair is linked to more than five-fold risk of heart disease before the age of 40 years than obesity, warns a recent study.
Obesity is associated with a four-fold risk of early heart disease.
Study author Dr Sachin Patil from the UN Mehta Institute of Cardiology and Research Centre, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India said the incidence of coronary artery disease in young men is increasing, but cannot be explained by traditional risk factors.
"Premature greying and androgenic alopecia (male-pattern baldness) correlate well with vascular age irrespective of chronological age and are plausible risk factors for coronary artery disease," Patil added.
The study investigated the association of premature hair greying and alopecia patterns in young Indian men with coronary artery disease, which included 790 men, aged less than 40 years, with coronary artery disease and 1,270 age-matched healthy men who acted as a control group.
All the participants had a clinical history taken, electrocardiogram (ECG), echocardiography, blood tests and coronary angiogram.
The findings indicated that young men with coronary artery disease had a higher prevalence of premature greying (50 per cent versus 30 per cent) and male-pattern baldness (49 per cent versus 27 per cent) compared to healthy controls.
After adjusting for age and other cardiovascular risk factors, male-pattern baldness was associated with a 5.6 times greater risk of coronary artery disease (95 per cent confidence interval and premature greying was associated with a 5.3 times greater risk.
Principal investigator Dr Kamal Sharma said, "Baldness and premature greying should be considered risk factors for coronary artery disease."
Dr K Sarat Chandra, CSI President-Elect, said, "It is an established fact that premature coronary artery disease is becoming more common in India with each passing day. We do not know the exact reasons behind this."
The research is presented at the 69th Annual Conference of the Cardiological Society of India (CSI) in Kolkata, India, from 30 November to 3 December .