An analysis of published evidence in the online journal BMJ Open has found a link between male pattern baldness and an increased risk of coronary heart disease.
This link is only relevant for balding on the top or crown of the head, rather than at the front, the analysis indicated, with a receding hairline not linked to an increased risk.
Researchers looked through Medline and the Cochrane Library databases for research published on coronary heart disease and male pattern baldness – with six meeting eligibility criteria and included in the analysis.
An analysis of the findings has shown that men who had lost most of their hair were 32 per cent more likely to develop coronary artery disease than their peers who kept a full head of hair.
A similar pattern emerged when the analysis was confined to men aged under 55 to 60.
Almost half (44 per cent) of bald or extensively balding men were more likely to develop coronary artery disease.
The research analysis of the other three studies comparing the heart health of those who were bald with those who weren't found that balding men were 70 per cent more likely to have heart disease, with the risk increasing for those in younger age groups (84 per cent).
Explanations for the reasons behind the link vary, but include the possibility that baldness may signify insulin resistance; increased sensitivity to testosterone; or a state of chronic inflammation – all of which are involved with promoting cardiovascular disease the authors said.
The authors concluded: "[Our] findings suggest that vertex baldness is more closely associated with systemic atherosclerosis than with frontal baldness."
"Thus, cardiovascular risk factors should be reviewed carefully in men with vertex baldness, especially younger men" who should "probably be encouraged to improve their cardiovascular risk profile."
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