WASHINGTON, Nov 6, 2012 (AFP) - If you look old, you might be at higher risk of heart trouble.
People with several visible signs of aging such as hair loss and fatty deposits around the eyes have a higher risk of developing heart problems than those of the same age who look younger, according to a study presented Tuesday.
"The visible signs of aging reflect physiologic or biological age, not chronological age, and are independent of chronological age," Anne Tybjaerg-Hansen, senior author of the study and professor at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, said in a statement.
Tybjaerg-Hansen presented the results at an annual conference held by the American Heart Association in Los Angeles.
The study, focused on almost 11,000 people aged 40 and older, found that those who had three to four aging signs had a 57 percent increased risk of heart attack and a 39 percent increased risk for heart disease.
Among the aging signs cited were a receding hairline at the temples, baldness at the crown of the head, earlobe creases and yellow fatty deposits around the eyelids.
Over the course of 35 years of follow-up, 3,401 of the participants developed heart disease and 1,708 had a heart attack.
"Individually and combined, these signs predicted heart attack and heart disease independent of traditional risk factors," said the American Heart Association. "Fatty deposits around the eye were the strongest individual predictor of both heart attack and heart disease."
The risk of having a heart attack and developing heart disease increased with each additional sign of aging among both men and women, who made up 45 percent of survey participants. The strongest individual predictor of both were fatty deposits around the eyes.
The highest risks were observed among those in their 70s and those with several signs of aging.
"Checking these visible aging signs should be a routine part of every doctor's physical examination," Tybjaerg-Hansen said.