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Losing Hair? Think About Your Heart.

Male-pattern balding affects up to 40% of adult men and leads to hair thinning and hair loss.  In addition to the change in appearance, baldness may be a marker for your heart’s condition.

A recent analysis of nearly 37,000 men (from studies in the United States and Europe) identified that balding men were more likely to have heart disease than non-balding men.  The risk for men less than 60 years was even greater 44%.  Specifically, balding that carried risk was located at the crown (on the top and back part of the head) and more severe balding corresponded to more severe heart disease (including heart attack).  The risk, however, was much less than the risk from smoking or obesity.  The risk of balding may be related to heart disease for several reasons.  Balding, which depends on androgens, be a marker of atherosclerosis (blood vessel disease) and prior studies have shown that baldness is influenced by hypertension and metabolic syndrome.  High insulin (part of metabolic syndrome) may cause constriction of blood vessels which could deprive nutrients to hair follicles of the scalp.  Chronic inflammation, known to accompany obesity, smoking and heart disease, could also affect hair follicles and be related to baldness.  Male pattern baldness may be due to increased sensitivity to androgens such as dihydrotestosterone (known as DHT, which causes shrinkage of hair follicles).  DHT also is present in and affects blood vessels.  The medication finasteride (also known as propecia or proscar), decreases conversion of testosterone to DHT, and this decreased DHT lessens hair loss and facilitates hair regrowth.

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Bottom line:  Male balding may be an indicator for a heart issue and your physician can examine you to determine that your heart is in good shape. Whether or not male balding is a marker with similar risks as heart disease or is more closely related to heart disease will require additional study.

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