Embracing a few wrinkles as we get older is an inevitable part of life, but those who develop deep forehead furrows at a younger-than-normal age could be wearing the signs of a worrying health risk, according to new research.
Deep forehead wrinkles could prove to be a major warning sign for potential problems such as heart conditions or even strokes, according to a French study, which indicates that deep brow furrows mean blood vessels are being blocked with fatty plaques.
Research presented at the European Society of Cardiology conference, led by author Yolande Esquirol, associate professor at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Toulouse, found adults with deep forehead wrinkles could be as much as 10 times more likely to die from a cardiovascular condition.
French scientists rated 3,221 volunteers – who were aged between 32 and 62 at the beginning of the study – on the amount of wrinkles they had and where, and then followed the volunteers for 20 years.
A score of zero meant no facial wrinkles, while a score of three meant numerous deep wrinkles. The researchers found that people with a score of one had a slightly higher risk of dying of heart disease than people with a zero rating, while those who had a score of two or three had almost 10 times the risk, even after the results counted in other factors that could contribute to a cardiovascular condition, such as age, gender, smoking and high blood pressure./
Lead researcher Yolande Esquirol told Science Daily: “The higher your wrinkle score, the more your cardiovascular mortality risk increases.” Esquirol said deep furrows were not typically a sign of hard work or a stressful lifestyle, but were more likely caused by the same changes that cause blood vessels to become blocked, such as protein damage.
“You can’t see or feel risk factors like high cholesterol or hypertension,” she said. “Just looking at a person’s face could sound an alarm, then we could give advice to lower risk.” She added that such advice could include straightforward lifestyle changes like getting more exercise and eating healthier food.
“Of course, if you have a person with a potential cardiovascular risk, you have to check classical risk factors like blood pressure as well as lipid and blood glucose levels, but you could already share some recommendations on lifestyle factors,” she added. “This is the first time a link has been established between cardiovascular risk and forehead wrinkles so the findings do need to be confirmed in future studies, but the practice could be used now in physicians’ offices and clinics. It doesn’t cost anything and there is no risk.”