Hair Loss and Heart Disease

Source from Hair Loss Center

Male pattern baldness due to increased sensitivity to male hormones is the most common hair loss reason in men; by 50 years of age 85% of men in the US can expect to see significant thinning of their hair. It is characterized by hair loss from the temples and top of the head, and is accompanied by hairs which are thinner. However, were you aware that this form of alopecia hair loss is associated with heart disease? A number of studies have shown that male baldness makes you more likely to develop the condition. This might come as a surprise, as of all the factors that might be linked to the onset of heart problems, you probably wouldn’t have expected pattern baldness to come out as one of them. As heart disease remains the number one killer in the US and in some instances symptoms do not develop till the condition is advanced, this finding is significant; knowledge of this could help to identify men likely to show signs of heart problems based on their hair loss patterns. Here we take a look at the association between these conditions.

Association with Hair Loss

A study published in the journal BMJ Open this year, which reviewed six pieces of research and involved almost 37,000 participants, found that the presence of hair loss on top of the head significantly increased the risk of coronary heart disease in men across all age groups, but that hair loss from the temples did not increase the risk. Men with a greater severity of baldness were also at greater risk of heart disease. It has been suggested that this association may exist because factors that lead to balding on top of the head may be the same as those that lead to heart disease, such as raised blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking. Identifying those men at increased cardiovascular disease risk through their hair loss patterns could allow vital health checks to be made and the necessary treatments and lifestyle interventions to be offered.

708px-RCA_atherosclerosisHair Loss Reasons in Men

Three of the factors that contribute to loss of hair in men, may also be why certain male alopecia hair loss is linked to heart disease. They are as follows:

  • Insulin resistance. When the body’s insulin is unable to work effectively to lower blood sugars, insulin resistance develops; this is often the consequence of being overweight, particularly if the extra weight is carried round the waist, or not being physically active. In this state, the circulation is impaired, reducing the flow of nutrients to the hair follicles. It is also the case that under these conditions, the effects of dihydrotestosterone on the hair cells is enhanced leading to hair fall.
  • Inflammation. An inflammatory state can develop in the body both as a consequence of disease, but also as a result of a being overweight, having a poor diet that is lacking in foods rich in antioxidants or through smoking. This is damaging to both the walls of the arteries, increasing the chance that fatty deposits will build up, reducing blood flow, but also to the hair follicles.
  • Increased sensitivity to male hormones. In male pattern baldness there is an increase in the number of receptors for male sex hormones in the scalp and higher levels of testosterone are present, which is converted to dihydrotestosterone. However, both these receptors and the enzyme that converts testosterone are present in the blood vessels and may play a role in narrowing of the arteries.

Prevent hair Loss

While male hair loss treatment may help to promote the growth of new hair, taking a pill will not offer protection to the heart or provide the same level of benefit in relation to regrowth as when lifestyle changes are incorporated into a plan to prevent hair loss. The following steps therefore have the potential to benefit both conditions:

  • Adopt healthy habits to promote weight loss; even if you can’t achieve an ideal body weight, losing just 10% of your bodyweight can significantly reduce insulin resistance.
  • Exercise daily, aiming to meet the recommended 150 minutes of weekly activity as a minimum.
  • Eat a diet rich in fruit, vegetables and wholegrains, and opt for fish, pulses and nuts more often for protein; this will help to achieve a greater intake of protective antioxidants.
  • Seek help to quit smoking if you haven’t already.