Multiple studies have found that men who are balding and/or graying prematurely have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. It’s not comforting news at all, but it’s not a sure sign that you will develop heart disease. You might not be able to stop baldness or graying (at least not without pharmaceutical assistance), but you can affect a lot of other conditions that could reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Studies and Stats
Indian, Japanese and Danish studies have all found an elevated occurrence of heart disease in men who were prematurely balding or graying, even after controlling for factors like obesity. The Japanese study found that balding men had a 32 percent greater incidence of cardiovascular disease, and the Indian study found that the risk of cardiovascular disease related to baldness outpaced that of obesity, which has long been considered a factor in cardiovascular disease.
Researchers still aren’t completely sure why early baldness and graying seem to be so indicative of disease risk. One theory is that hormonal changes that affect heart health also leave hair graying or falling out. Another theory says that people who are graying early could be biologically aging more quickly.
What This Means for You
Regardless of what’s behind the correlation, the presence of early baldness or graying is something to note, but it is not something to worry excessively about. You can’t change the fact that you have this extra risk factor, and the elevated risk is really just that — a risk factor, not a destiny. What you should do is watch those parts of your life that you can control. For example, eat a heart-healthy diet, and get a reasonable amount of exercise; also, control obesity and blood pressure. If you have other conditions that could increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, like sleep apnea, treat those so you get better sleep.
Your doctor can help you work out a suitable plan for keeping your heart healthy. Don’t worry if you have a risk factor; instead, be proactive.