Hair Loss and Heart Disease

Hair Loss and Heart Disease

Alopecia, more commonly known as hair loss in men and women, can occur for a variety of reasons and understanding those causes is important to determining treatment options.  One of the most common explanations for alopecia is genetic disposition, frequently referred to as male pattern baldness or female hair loss.  Most men will experience at least some hair loss by age 50 due to shrinking hair follicles – a natural progression resulting in thinner, more fragile hair that eventually stops growing – but even while genetics can play a role, there are conditions that enhance the effects of genetic hair loss.  In recent studies, two predominant factors affecting hair loss have been found to be stress and, more disconcertingly, underlying health problems such as heart disease. The good news is that the connection between hair loss and heart disease do not affect everyone.

Stress and Hair Loss

stress hair lossStress is a natural part of life for humans, but increased stress levels can have disastrous effects on hair lines.  Telogen Effluvium, for example, is a temporary hair loss condition brought on by stress where hair thins all over the head and typically grows back after a six month period.   Alopecia areata is another condition that can be triggered by stress, this time causing patchy hair loss – typically in circles across the scalp.  Hair normally grows back within three to six months; however, it will have a white or pale look during early regrowth.  The good news about stress-related hair loss is that there is a simple solution to restimulating hair growth: a reduction in stress that goes alongside healthy lifestyle changes.  Though stress cannot be eliminated in most cases, it can be dealt with personally and professionally to arrive at a manageable level.  Additionally, there are medically-proven treatments that help to combat early symptoms of even stress related alopecia, such as a high dose of minoxidil, which improves blood flow and increases oxygen supply to hair follicles.  Either way, consulting a doctor is the first step to hair recovery.

A Link Between Hair Loss and Heart Disease?

Unfortunately, while alopecia can be reversed in some cases, in others it is simply a matter of genetics and time.  There will always be solutions for those who seek them – hair systems, trials, or treatments – but perhaps the bigger concern should be directed to the possible implications of hair loss and when and how it occurs.  In recent studies, vertex baldness or balding from the crown of the head has been determined to be a possible first sign of heart disease in men.  In fact, male pattern baldness that affects the top of the head is considered a warning sign in all cases; however, the younger the age, the greater the loss, and the further the distance from middle age when it occurs are all factors that increase the risk for heart disease exponentially.  Studies are ongoing and have yet to be substantiated fully, but it is worth a discussion with a medical professional in the very least as other heart disease-related medical conditions (including incipient diabetes, chronic inflammation, or increased sensitivity to testosterone) could also be signaled by something as seemingly innocuous as balding.  The good news is that those suffering from a receding hair line and women dealing with female hair loss are not connected in the link between hair loss and heart disease, but it is nevertheless a good reminder that it is important to look at the big picture when trying to determine the causes of visible ailments.