Being overweight…having chest pain…having a bad diet…lack of exercise…a family history of heart disease.
Everybody knows these are signs that a heart attack could be in your future.
But a new study shows there’s a major risk factor that you can see by looking in the mirror.
It raises your chances of a heart attack by nearly 1,000%.
Forehead wrinkles may be the last thing you’d associate with heart disease. But it turns out, they may be an accurate early warning sign.
Researchers in France noted that the blood vessels in the forehead are extremely small. This makes them vulnerable to plaque buildup. And plaque deposits cause forehead wrinkles.1
Plaque in arteries leads to heart attacks and strokes.
Scientists analyzed the foreheads of 3,200 healthy adults. The participants were between 32 and 62 years old at the start of the study.
Doctors assigned “wrinkle scores” of zero to 3 to each person. A score of zero meant no forehead wrinkles. A score of three meant “numerous deep wrinkles.” People who had undergone Botox wrinkle treatments were excluded from the study.
Researchers followed the heart health of the subjects for 20 years.
Forehead Wrinkles Indicate Heart Health
They found that people with forehead wrinkle scores of 2 or 3 had almost 10 times greater risk of dying of heart disease.
Those with a wrinkle score of 1 had just a slighter higher risk of heart death than those with a score of zero.
Dr. Yolande Esquirol is an associate professor of occupational health at the University of Toulouse in France. She was the lead author on the study.
“The higher your wrinkle score, the more your cardiovascular risk mortality risk increase,” she said.
The association is so strong that doctors should look at their patients’ foreheads when assessing their heart health, Dr. Esquirol said.
“The practice could be used now in physicians’ offices and clinics,” she said. “It’s so simple and visual. It doesn’t cost anything and there is no risk.”
The research was presented recently at the annual conference of the European Society of Cardiology.
Get the Right Heart Test
If you have deep forehead wrinkles, it’s a good idea to get your heart checked. The first thing most mainstream doctors will do is give you a cholesterol test.
But this is not reliable. The fact is, most heart attack victims have low or normal cholesterol levels.2
A better indicator is coronary calcium.
A calcium scoring test is a simple, painless screening that diagnoses hard plaque. It is a specialized X-ray that provides pictures of your heart. It shows calcium-containing plaque.4
Scores range from zero to over 400. If your score is 10 or less, you have a less than 10% chance of heaving heart disease. If your score is 11-100, you likely have mild heart disease.
Any score over 100 means you likely have heart disease and artery blockage. A score over 400 means you have a 90% chance that at least one of your arteries is blocked. Your risk of having a heart attack is very high.
The link between calcified plaque and heart disease is so strong that having a calcium score of zero is like “having a five-year warranty” against a heart attack, said Dr. Brent Muhlestein. He is co-director of cardiology research at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City. This “warranty” holds true even if you have high levels of bad LDL cholesterol.3
This Vitamin Reverses Heart Disease
If you have a high calcium score, adding one vitamin to your diet can actually reverse heart disease. Researchers at Ohio University found that vitamin D3 heals blood vessels on a molecular level.4
It stimulates cells to produce nitric oxide, which keeps arteries healthy and flexible. It also reduces oxidative stress linked to heart failure and disease.
Your doctor can do a simple blood draw to determine if you are deficient in vitamin D.
It’s called a 25 (OH) D test. Just about all doctors offer it.
Ideal levels are 40-60 ng/mL. If you are low, try to get 20 minutes a day of sunlight with arms and legs exposed.
You can also raise your levels by eating foods high in vitamin D. Good sources include pasture-raised eggs and oily fish such as wild-caught salmon, sardines, herring, and mackerel.
A more reliable way to increase vitamin D is with a supplement. We recommend 5,000 IUs daily.
And don’t just take a supplement marked vitamin D. Make sure that you take the vitamin D3 form. Twice as much D3 is absorbed by your body than vitamin D2. Most supplements labeled simply “vitamin D” contain high levels of D2, not D3.