Whether it happens at 20 or 50, gray hair is an inevitable part of the aging process.
At some point, most people’s bodies stop producing as much melanin (the pigment that colors your hair) and silver strands start popping up like weeds. But there’s something you should know about going gray…
It affects more than just your appearance. It could be a sign your heart is in danger…
Gray hair signals an unhealthy heart
Researchers from Cairo University in Egypt recently found that the more gray hair you have the higher your risk is for heart disease… regardless of how old you are.
The study included 545 adult men, all of whom received a diagnostic test for coronary heart diseases known as a multi-slice computed tomography (CT) coronary angiography. The men were then divided into subgroups based on whether they had coronary artery disease and how much gray or white hair they had.
Researchers found that the men with the most gray or white hair were also the most likely to have coronary artery disease — even after they accounted for other risk factors like family history, hypertension, diabetes, smoking and age.
This study corresponds with a . study that found that looking older than your age is connected to a higher risk of heart disease.
In that study, signs of aging like a receding hairline at the temples, bald head on top, ear lobe creases, and yellow, fatty deposits on your eyelids were found to raise heart disease risk . as much as 57 percent.
But why are the physical signs of aging so closely connected to the health of your ticker?
Well, because the deterioration of your heart and the outward signs of aging are often caused . the very same biological processes…
In the case of heart disease and hair graying, for example, researchers say they’re both caused . things like impaired DNA repair, oxidative stress, inflammation, hormonal changes and cell deterioration — all things associated with the biological aging process.
“Atherosclerosis and hair graying occur through similar biological pathways and the incidence of both increases with age,” said Dr. Irini Samuel, a cardiologist at Cairo University, Egypt. “Our findings suggest that, irrespective of chronological age, hair graying indicates biological age and could be a warning sign of increased cardiovascular risk.”
In other words, heart disease risk is less about your chronological age and more about your biological age… something that can partially be gauged . the number of unruly gray hairs taking over your head.
How to manage your heart disease risk
So whether you’re going gray in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s or beyond, it’s a sign that your heart disease risk is going up. And it’s time to take preventative action…
Both aging and heart disease have a lot to do with genetics, but lifestyle plays a huge role in them too. In fact, a study conducted last year found that even if you have a 90 percent higher risk of heart disease due to genetics, you can significantly lower your risk . doing four simple things:
Maintaining a body mass index less than 30.
Exercising at least once a week.
Eating a healthy diet.
A while back, my colleague Carl Lowe also wrote about a program created . the Mayo Clinic to lower heart disease risk called the “Eat 5, Move 10, Sleep 8” program. This program suggests you follow four simple steps for a healthier heart:
Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
Get some exercise every day.
Get at least eight hours of sleep a night.
Make sure you set aside time for activities you enjoy.
If you follow all these healthy lifestyle tips, you’re sure to have a healthier heart. And who knows? As an added bonus, you may even have less gray hair.