There are plenty of reasons people don’t want lines on their forehead, but science has just come up with a new one.
According to a new study, people with deeper forehead wrinkles than is typical for their age may have a higher risk of dying of cardiovascular disease.
And while a furrowed brow isn’t necessarily a better indicator than blood pressure, it could provide an early warning, they said.
The study, which is being presented at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress in Munich, Germany, analysed 3,200 healthy working adults of various ages over a period of 20 years, assigning them scores depending on the number and depth of wrinkles on their foreheads, with zero meaning no wrinkles while three equated to “numerous deep wrinkles”.
The participants were followed for 20 years, during which time 233 died of various causes. Of these, 15.2% had been given scores of two and three, 6.6% had score one wrinkles and 2.1% had no wrinkles.
Those who had wrinkle scores of two and three had almost 10 times the risk of dying compared with people who had wrinkle scores of zero, after adjustments for age, gender, education, smoking status, blood pressure, heart rate, diabetes and lipid levels.
The team didn’t find a definite reason for the link, but theorised that it could be connected to atherosclerosis – the hardening of arteries due to plaque build-up – which is a major contributor to heart attacks and other cardiovascular events.
Study author Yolande Esquirol, associate professor of occupational health at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Toulouse in France, said: “The higher your wrinkle score, the more your cardiovascular mortality risk increases. You can’t see or feel risk factors like high cholesterol or hypertension.
“We explored forehead wrinkles as a marker because it’s so simple and visual. Just looking at a person’s face could sound an alarm, then we could give advice to lower risk.”
She said that advice could include straightforward lifestyle changes such as getting more exercise or eating more healthily.
Dr Esquirol added: “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.
“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.”