A recent study reveals there may be a link between male pattern baldness and heart health. NY1's Erin Billups filed the following report.
A recent analysis of studies published in the British Medical Journal finds there is a strong link between balding and heart disease.
"We talk about smoking, and high blood pressure and high cholesterol and sedentary lifestyle and diabetes, traditional risk factors," says Dr. Mary Ann McLaughlin, a cardiologist at Mt. Sinai Hospital. "Up until now people are not using baldness as a criterion when they're examining patients to say they may be at increased risk."
The analysis concluded that men balding on the top or crown of their head are 70 percent more likely to have heart disease.
That figure jumps to 84 percent for balding men under the age of 60.
Men with receding hairlines though are not at increased risk.
Researchers and doctors like Dr. McLaughlin are still trying to figure out why.
"In the past two years we've learned that middle aged to older men who have low testosterone have an increased risk of heart attacks and mortality from heart disease," says McLaughlin.
McLaughlin is currently studying why testosterone deficiency is important. The authors of the BMJ study say that baldness may also indicate insulin resistance and chronic inflammation, which are tied closely to heart disease.
"Inflammation and insulin resistance, we think may have an effect on the health of the arteries and in some way affect the growth of the hair follicles," notes McLaughlin.
And the more severe the balding, the greater the risk. McLaughlin says knowing this association can change lives.
"Men, even starting in their young ages, in their 20s and 30s should think about their heart health: Keeping their cholesterol controlled, keeping their blood pressure controlled and talking to their doctor about their overall risk for heart disease," says McLaughlin.