Can your Ears Give You a Heads Up on Heart Disease?

There are few that will argue, that ears are an important body part, more often not they are not thought of as the most glamourous. While this may not be set to change, there is new evidence that the way your ear lobes are formed may prove to be useful in predicting your health.

In the image above, the lobe features a diagonal crease, this may tell-tale sign that you might be at increased risk of suffering from heart disease.

The first reference to this phenomenon was back in 1973, when a physician named S.T Frank wrote a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine, detailing his observation that a number of his patients with ear lobe creases suffered from angina and heart problems. However, this initial observation cannot distinguish between causation and correlation due to the sample size and measurement practices. This initial observation may however, prove true after a number of follow up studies (including data from Post Mortems) provided evidence. With Swedish and UK based studies presenting a finding of those with a crease in the ear lobe being twice as likely to have coronary disease. There are however, studies that show no correlation or hypothesis that earlobe creases tend to develop as people mature (they are very rarely seen in children). It could therefore, be proposed that old age is the real factor associated with the higher rate of coronary disease.

The theories behind why a crease may be a sign of possible heart disease, also tend to support the aging theory. As the body ages the body begins to slow down, with effects such as intercellular aging, general tissue degeneration and damage to micro vessels. This leads to the skin being less elastic and causing wrinkles, including the ears. Another effect is that the blood vessels in the body also become less robust, increasing the potential of heart disease. It has also been noted that the heart and earlobes are both supplied by a single set of arteries, which means that if they fail there is no way to get blood to the area. Which then ties into the theory that earlobes can act as early warning system for coronary problems.
While the evidence for the earlobe creases being a legitimate predictor of coronary disease, it can act as a great way to raise the conversation on heart health. Regardless if you have a diagonal crease in your lobe or not, its never to early to start taking steps to look after your heart. Visit the British Heart Foundation, for more information.