There may be a way to tell if you’re at an increased risk of heart disease just by looking in the bathroom mirror. A recent study of over 2,000 young men has found that early-onset graying and baldness may both be indicators of coronary artery disease.
The study, conducted by the European Society of Cardiology, suggests that men with either early-onset baldness or premature graying are at greater risk of developing heart disease than men with obesity. The study came to the conclusion after looking at 790 men under the age of 40 who already had heart disease and 1,270 healthy men of the same age.
The researchers took a clinical history of all participants and then marked their levels of baldness and hair whitening, then looked at findings in comparison to the level of heart disease symptoms the participants showed.
The study found that men in the heart disease group were five times more likely to have prematurely graying hair—50 percent compared of the heart disease group compared to 30 percent of the healthy control group—and 5.6 times more likely to have early-onset baldness—49 percent versus 27 percent— than the control group.
The study’s principal investigator, Dr. Kamal Sharma, told BBC that the correlation could be related to the speed of a body’s aging process. “The possible reason could be the process of biological aging, which may be faster in certain patients and may be reflected in hair changes,” he said.
While the news may be a bummer to guys under 40 already balding or gray-haired, try to look at it as a positive: Having such an easy way to tell if your body is at risk of developing heart disease gives you ample opportunity to get a jump on heart health. Even if heart disease is potentially inevitable based on your genes, you can still affect the severity depending on what you do now.
As far as guys with a full head of hair, you’re not in the clear—everything from working long hours to speed-eating can put you at risk, as well.
By Reegan von Wildenradt