Heart attack: Certain facial features could be hinting you’re at risk – what to look for

What's the difference between a heart attack and cardiac arrest?

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A heart attack – medically referred to as myocardial infarction – can cause a sudden crushing sensation in the chest, leaving a small window opportunity for curative treatment. In rare cases, warning signs can occur months before an attack. Those seeking to know whether they’re at risk could look for clues in their facial features, according to experts.

In early research, scientists spotted a link between a host of facial features and an increased risk for heart problems.

The findings appeared to suggest that having a receding hairline, cholesterol deposits on the eyelids, and earlobe crevices could be indicative of a person’s heart disease risk.

Data showed that among participants who displayed three out of four of these features, 57 percent experienced heart disease.

It was noted that people with cholesterol deposits on the face may also suffer from corneal arcus, where cholesterol deposits turn the colour of the eye a hazy white, grey or a blue opaque ring appears on the outer edges of the cornea.

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The telling facial features, however, were cholesterol deposits on the eyelids and receding hairlines in men.

Medical director at Oliolusso, Monika Wassermann, commented: “Some receding hairlines, bald spots, creased earlobes, increased baldness, and facial cholesterol deposits can indicate that you are at higher risk of heart diseases such as stroke and heart attacks.

“Though there is no clear evidence to link each sign with an increased risk of heart disease, most studies believe these features could arise due to hereditary genes or changes in body hormones.”

High testosterone in both males and females can produce a variety of symptoms, such as excessive facial and body hair, aggression and infertility.

WebMD states that the hormone is believed to contribute to the hardening of arteries, and could increase the risk of blood clots when taken at high doses in the form of a supplement.

“An increase in testosterone hormones is always associated with a higher risk of heart diseases, explaining why men are at higher infection risks than ladies,” added Miss Wassermann.

She continued: “Excess testosterone hormones in the body can lead to the deposition of fats on arteries or other blood vessels, increase cholesterol amounts, spike blood pressure and cause narrowing or thickening of blood vessels.

“The signs could also be triggered by inheritance as new studies linked the changes in hairlines, facial cholesterol deposits, and high cholesterol levels to be common among people of the same family and can be passed to newborns.”

Researchers said the findings provided evidence that signs of ageing not only are an indication of chronological ageing but reveal a wealth of information about a person’s biological age, as well as the condition of their heart.

But studies are needed to determine the exact link of an increased risk of heart attacks to these surprising signs, noted Miss Wassermann.

What’s more, even though other studies have reinforced the findings, they have proven difficult to use successfully to predict and quantify heart disease risk.

Facial features have, however, formed the basis of artificial intelligence used to detect heart disease.

Using deep learning computer algorithms, researchers have managed to detect coronary artery disease by analysing just four photographs of a person’s face.

A study published in the European Heart Journal in 2020, detailed the simple and cheap mechanism, suggesting a simple selfie could identify at-risk patients.

Professor Zhe Zheng, who led the research, commented: “To our knowledge, this is the first work demonstrating that artificial intelligence can be used to analyse faces to detect heart disease.

“It is a step towards the development of a deep learning-based tool that could be used to assess the risk of heart disease, either in outpatients clinic or by means of patients taking ‘selfies’ to perform their own screening.”

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