Studies: what your ear can tell you about your heart health

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(NaturalNews) What has the ear got to do with heart health?

There is research to suggest a crease in one's earlobe, also known as the "Frank's sign", can have predictive value when it comes to coronary artery disease (CAD).

What studies show

The association between the earlobe crease (ELC) and CAD was first pointed out in a 1973 study led by Dr Sanders T. Frank.

In studies subsequent to Dr Frank's, such as the 1979 study by Kaukola and his associates, it was found that the prevalence of the diagonal earlobe crease increased with the severity of coronary artery atherosclerosis. Shmilovich and team had similar findings in 2012.

A 1989 study by Kirkham and team, on a consecutive series of 303 coroner's necropsies, found that there was "a strong association between earlobe creases and a cardiovascular cause of death in men and women after age, height and diabetes had been controlled for".

In 2006, a study on 520 forensic autopsy cases by Edston found that there was a strong correlation between ELC and CAD. For those below 40 years old, ELC was predictive of CAD for as high as 80% of the cases. The study also found that ELC was correlated with sudden cardiac death in men.

Considering that there is a growing number of individuals who become disabled from or die of coronary artery diseases even without having classic risk factors or developing prodromal symptoms, the ELC could be a useful way of identifying individuals at high risk of undetected CAD.

Explaining the relationship between the earlobe crease and heart health

Until today, the exact link between ELC and CAD is still unknown. There are several postulations on the correlation.

One hypothesis by Arthur Friedlander, D.M.D., a professor of oral and facial surgery at the University of California (Los Angeles), is that the earlobe, as a blood-vessel endpoint, is where blood concentrates. So any blood circulation problems or blockage in the body could be manifested in the ear, such as in the form of a crease.

Another hypothesis is that the loss of elastin (a naturally occurring substance that gives body tissues their elasticity) in individuals contribute to both earlobe creasing as well as hardening of arteries.

Some studies found that the earlobe crease was more common in those above 55 years old. Hence, one other explanation is that the ELC reflects the aging of skin, which is found to parallel aging changes occurring in coronary arteries.

Limitations of the ELC indicator

However, the ELC is by no means a perfect indicator of CAD.

While there are quite a few studies that have found strong correlations between the two, there are still those with CAD who do not have any earlobe crease, and those with the crease that do not develop heart disease. In fact, there are also some studies that have reported no significant relationship between the two factors.

The ELC may be more useful as a risk indicator, rather than a diagnostic marker for CAD.

Moreover, since the ELC is also correlated with aging, it is probably more useful as a risk indicator for younger people, such as those below 50 years old.

Not forgetting the basics of good heart health

Whether or not you have the ELC, ultimately, you should still seek to keep your heart in good health through a healthy diet (with lots of fruits and vegetables, omega-3-rich foods, etc), lifestyle (e.g. regular exercise, not smoking and not drinking excessive alcohol) as well as keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol under check.

Sources for this article include
[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3448193/
[2] http://www.menshealth.com
[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1216678/
[4] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16738431

About the author:
Cindy L. has a keen interest in natural healing. She was previously trained in Psychology and is currently receiving training in Traditional Chinese Medicine. She has written on depression (at HolisticDepressionHelp.com) as well as other ailments (at Insights On Health.com).

Her belief in holistic living extends beyond health - her passion for green living can be seen in her website at All Recycling Facts.com.

Follow her at Health on The-Journey-Of-Life.

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