Your Hair May Predict a Heart Attack

Talk about a bad hair day!

Researchers have discovered that the stress hormone, cortisol, which is found in human hair, can be a powerful predictor of a heart attack. Will this mean that we will be saving locks of hair for doctors to examine when we go for our yearly checkups? It just might, and don’t laugh because it may just save your life!

A new study conducted at the University of Western Ontario indicates that hair is like a chemical camera of sorts that actually captures and records each individual’s history of stress. When you are stressed, the hormone is released into the bloodstream and seeps into the hair follicles. A timeline grows naturally along with your own hair, chemically recording the toll of anxieties on your heart.

According to Live Science, only a few hairs are needed to predict the risk of an imminent heart attack. Professor Gideon Koren who headed the study concentrated on three months worth of hair growth by taking hair samples from 120 men and measuring the cortisol levels in the 1.2 inches of hair closest to the scalp. His results indicated that levels of cortisol were much higher in those men who had suffered heart attacks.

The results of the study were published in the journal, Stress and they could well prove monumental in developing a non-invasive procedure that lets doctors know when a patient is suddenly at imminent risk for a heart attack.

“We know that on average hair grows one centimeter a month, and so if we take a hair sample six centimeters long (2.36 inches), we can determine stress levels for six months by measuring the cortisol level in the hair… Intuitively, we know that stress is not good for you, but it’s not easy to measure,” said Koren.

Up until now, cortisol levels have been measured from blood, urine or saliva samples, but results were always limited. Dr. Koren and his team are revolutionaries but they are well aware that many factors can contribute to the emergence of heart disease, including: high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, cholesterol levels and genetic predisposition. Ultimately, however, when all of these diverse risk factors were taken into account, hair cortisol content reigned supreme as the strongest predictor of a heart attack.

There is still much work to be done in order to establish the true worth of the study; namely, it must include a broader range of patients, including women. Still, it is mind-boggling and incredible news for people with heart conditions.

Does this mean barbers and hair stylists will have to receive medical training and that bald people will fall by the wayside?

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  1. laurie Cook says:

    How can you become part of a study?