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Anadolu Kardiyol Derg. 2012 Sep;12(6):457-63. doi: 10.5152/akd.2012.150. Epub 2012 Jun 7.

The degree of premature hair graying as an independent risk marker for coronary artery disease: a predictor of biological age rather than chronological age.

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Clinic of Cardiology, Rize Education and Research Hospital, Rize-Turkey.



Age is the most important and uncorrectable coronary risk factor at the moment. The concept of measuring aging biologically rather than only chronologically may be of importance in clinical practice. Hair graying is the most apparent sign of biological aging in humans, yet its mechanism is largely unknown. Today, it is known that cardiovascular risk factors (CVRFs), especially in combination, cause premature atherosclerosis. In our opinion, premature hair graying or whitening may represent early atherosclerotic changes as a surrogate of host response to the CVRFs. In this study, we planned to investigate the relationship of hair graying with CVRFs and coronary atherosclerotic burden in order to determine whether it is an independent marker for coronary artery disease (CAD).


The current study has a cross-sectional observational design. Two hundred and thirteen men who underwent coronary angiography with a suspicion of CAD were enrolled in the study. The patients were evaluated in terms of age, demographical properties and the CVRFs. Hair whitening score (HWS) was defined according to extent of gray/white hairs (1: pure black; 2: black>white; 3: black=white; 4: white>black; 5: pure white). Coronary atherosclerotic burden was assessed by the Gensini score. Analyses were performed in age-matched normal coronary arteries (NCA) and CAD groups. Linear and logistic regression analyses were used for the multivariate analyses of independent variables associated with hair greying.


The CVRFs were higher in CAD group. Hair whitening score (2.7 ± 1.3 vs. 3.3 ± 1.2, p=0.002), hair losing score (1.2 ± 0.9 vs. 1.5 ± 1.0, p=0.038) and xanthelasma rate (24% vs. 45%, p=0.013) were also significantly different between NCA and CAD groups. Age (p<0001), Gensini score (p<0.001) and coronary severity score (p=0.001) were higher in the categories of increased HWS. In multiple logistic regression analysis, only diabetes mellitus (OR: 3.240, 95% CI: [1.017-10.319], p=0.047), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, (OR: 1.014, 95%CI: [1.001-1.027], p=0.029) and HWS (OR: 1.513, 95% CI: [1.054-2.173], p=0.025) were independently related to presence of CAD. Age (p<0.001), family history of CAD (p=0.004), hyperlipidemia (p=0.02) and serum creatinine levels (p=0.019) were found as independent predictors of hair graying.


In our study, we found that the degree of gray/white hairs is related to extent of CAD. Our findings also suggested that hair graying is a risk marker for CAD independent of age and other traditional risk factors. Biological age may be important in determining total risk of patients. During assessment of cumulative CVRF effects on human body, presence of biological aging signs may be useful in identifying individuals with increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

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