You may have had some good times to earn your ‘laugh lines’, but your hard-earned wrinkles are a real warning sign that you’re at high risk of strokes and heart attacks.
The controversial new research from the University Hospital of Toulouse in France suggests that a high number of wrinkles is a signifier of atherosclerosis, a build up of fats and cholesterol in the arteries. The condition, if left untreated, can inhibit the blood flow and increases the risk of clots.
“The higher your wrinkle score, the more your cardiovascular mortality risk increases,” said lead researcher Yolande Esquirol. “You can’t see or feel risk factors like high cholesterol or hypertension. Just looking at a person’s face could sound an alarm, then we could give advice to lower risk.”
Following over 3000 volunteers for a period of 20 years, the researchers rated ‘wrinkliness’ on a scale of 0-3 to provide Esquirol’s “wrinkle score”, with zero equaling smooth skin, and three identifying extreme wrinkles. Following their study, they suggest that a wrinkled forehead is a clear indicator to GP’s and medical professionals that a person is at risk of major cardiac issues.
“We found it is a simple visual screening tool that can be used by GPs to identify people at risk,” said another researcher, Professor Jean Ferrieres. “This is more precise than cholesterol levels, as it is a sign blood vessels are already being damaged. We would advise patients with wrinkly brows to see their GP and make lifestyle changes, such as more exercise and better diet.”
The researchers believe that rather than resulting from lifestyle factors such as stress and laughter, wrinkles are a result of blood vessels becoming blocked.
The researchers presented their findings this week at the European Society of Cardiology Conference, and understandably have been met with some hesitation from other health experts.
While opposition to their research isn’t extreme, cardiologists believe there is a long way to go before replacing traditional testing with facial diagnosis. After all, even the news itself is enough to cause a few furrowed brows.