Health

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Signs of ageing that reveal the dangers of heart attacks

Tell-tale signs of being past your prime, such as baldness and creased earlobes, may provide an early warning of heart disease, say scientists.

Researchers found that men and women who had three to four ageing signs were 57pc more likely than younger looking individuals to suffer a heart attack. Their overall risk of heart disease was raised by 39pc.

"The visible signs of aging reflect physiologic or biological age, not chronological age, and are independent of chronological age," said lead scientist Professor Anne-Tybjaerg-Hansen, from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

Her team studied almost 11,000 men and women aged 40 years and older noting four key signs of ageing -- receding hairline, crown top baldness, earlobe creases, and yellow fatty deposits around the eyes.

Over the next 35 years, 3,401 of the participants developed heart disease and 1,708 suffered a heart attack.

Both individually and together, the ageing signs predicted heart attack and heart disease independently of traditional risk factors.

Fatty deposits around the eyes were the strongest single predictor of both heart attack and heart disease.

The risk of heart disease and heart attack increased with each additional sign of ageing, the scientists told the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions meeting in Los Angeles.

People in their 70s and with multiple signs of ageing were most at risk.

"Checking these visible ageing signs should be a routine part of every doctor's physical examination," said Prof Tybjaerg-Hansen.

Viagra may help protect the heart from the side-effects of a powerful cancer drug, the meeting also heard.

Cell and animal studies showed that the erectile dysfunction drug alone or in combination with a widely used immunosuppressant helped prevent heart damage caused by the cancer treatment doxorubicin. At the same time, the anti-cancer effect of doxorubicin was significantly increased.

Menopause

The drug can treat breast, ovarian, colon and prostate cancers but its use has been limited because of the risk to the heart.

"We think this combination therapy may have excellent potential to move forward into clinical trials and eventually improve the life expectancy of cancer patients," said study leader David Durrant, from Virginia Commonwealth University in the US.

Meanwhile, a separate study into women's health has discovered that a woman's potential fertility can be predicted from the age her mother went through the menopause,.

The ovarian reserve -- the number of eggs a woman has left in her ovaries -- was found to decline faster in women whose mothers had an early menopause. The findings suggest that a woman's fertility is, to some extent, inherited from her mother.

Earlier statistical studies had already indicated the trend, but the new research confirmed it by looking at two physical markers of ovarian reserve.

Scientists measured anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) levels and antral follicle count (AFC) in daughters and compared both with their mothers' age at menopause.

Both markers reduced at a faster rate in daughters of mothers who had the menopause early.

Study leader Dr Janne Bentzen, from Copenhagen University Hospital, said: "This is the first study to suggest that the age-related decline of AMH and AFC may differ between those whose mothers entered menopause before the age of 45 years and those whose mothers entered menopause after the age of 55.

"Our findings support the idea that the ovarian reserve is influenced by hereditary factors. However, long-term follow-up studies are required.

"Conclusive evidence can only be obtained when we have longitudinal studies that follow women who have AMH measurements over time until menopause. Therefore, interpretations of our data are limited and the findings we have described may not occur in any given individual."

The results are reported in the latest online edition of the journal 'Human Reproduction'.

A total of 527 women aged 20 to 40 working in health care at Copenhagen University Hospital took part in the research.

Average AMH levels declined by 8.6pc, 6.8pc, and 4.2pc per year in women with mothers who had early, normal or late menopauses respectively.

A similar pattern was seen for AFC, with annual declines of 5.8pc, 4.7pc and 3.2pc per year in the same groups.

Irish Independent

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