Men with grey hair are at greater risk of heart disease, according to a new study.
Researchers found that if at least half of a man's thatch has turned grey they are at an increased risk of coronary artery disease - independent of their age and established cardiovascular risk factors, such as smoking.
Study leader Dr Irini Samuel, a cardiologist at Cairo University in Egypt. said: "Ageing is an unavoidable coronary risk factor and is associated with dermatological signs that could signal increased risk.
"More research is needed on cutaneous signs of risk that would enable us to intervene earlier in the cardiovascular disease process."
She said atherosclerosis, the build-up of fatty material inside the arteries which is the condition that causes most heart attacks and strokes and hair greying share similar mechanisms such as impaired DNA repair and hormonal changes.
The researchers assessed the prevalence of grey hair in patients with coronary artery disease and whether it was an independent risk marker of disease.
The study included 545 adult men who underwent scans for suspected coronary artery disease.
They were divided into subgroups according to the presence or absence of coronary artery disease, and the amount of grey or white hair.
The amount of grey hair was graded using the hair whitening score, where 1 = pure black hair, 2 = black more than white, 3 = black equals white, 4 = white more than black, and 5 = pure white.
Each patients' grade was determined by two independent observers.
Figures were collected on traditional cardiovascular risk factors including hypertension, diabetes, smoking, dyslipidaemia, and family history of coronary artery disease.
The researchers found that a high hair whitening score, Grade 3 or more, was associated with increased risk of coronary artery disease independent of chronological age and established cardiovascular risk factors.
Patients with coronary artery disease had a "statistically significant" higher hair whitening score and higher coronary artery calcification than those without coronary artery disease.
Dr Samuel said: "Atherosclerosis and hair greying occur through similar biological pathways and the incidence of both increases with age.
"Our findings suggest that, irrespective of chronological age, hair greying indicates biological age and could be a warning sign of increased cardiovascular risk."
Dr Samuel said patients at high risk of coronary artery disease should have regular check-ups to avoid early cardiac events by initiating preventive therapy.
She added: "Further research is needed, in coordination with dermatologists, to learn more about the causative genetic and possible avoidable environmental factors that determine hair whitening.
"A larger study including men and women is required to confirm the association between hair greying and cardiovascular disease in patients without other known cardiovascular risk factors.
"If our findings are confirmed, standardisation of the scoring system for evaluation of hair greying could be used as a predictor for coronary artery disease."
Dr Samuel is due to present the findings at EuroPrevent 2017, the annual congress of the European Association of Preventive Cardiology (EAPC) in Malaga, Spain.
Avalilable at: http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/789059/heart-disease-causes-symptoms-risks-coronary-artery-men-grey-hair-ageing