If you have an ear lobe crease, is it a marker for a higher heart disease risk? Find out the significance of ear lobe creases and how they may relate to heart health.
Could you ears be saying something about your heart? Some experts think so. If you look closely at your ear lobes and see a diagonal crease, it could have health implications – or not. Ear lobes are normally smooth and not creased, but in a certain sub-segment of the population, one or both ear lobes have a visible diagonal crease. For more than fifty years, studies have looked for an association between ear lobe creases and an increased risk of heart disease. To date, more than thirty studies have been done to determine whether ear lobe creases in one or both ears is a risk factor for heart disease – and the issue still isn’t resolved.
Despite numerous studies looking at the association between ear lobe creases and heart disease, there’s still not enough evidence to say that ear lobe creases are a marker for heart disease risk. Some studies have shown a strong association while others have shown none. One study that looked at 247 patients admitted to a hospital found a strong correlation between ear lobe creases and heart disease – enough that the researchers recommended this sign be used as an indicator for greater heart disease risk.
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic found that among a group of patients admitted for chest pain, ninety percent of those with an ear lobe crease were having a heart attack compared to only ten percent of those with smooth ear lobes. Still, not all studies have supported this association and some doctors are skeptical about the significance of this finding. Most studies on ear lobe creases were carried out on people of European descent and ear lobe creases may not have the same significance in other populations. Some studies have also shown that the risk of heart disease is even higher when both ear lobes are creased – as opposed to only one lobe.
Why would an ear lobe crease be a risk factor for heart disease? Some experts believe that a creased ear lobe might arise from a defect in elastin production. Elastin is a protein found in the dermal layer of the skin that gives skin the ability to stretch and bounce back. It also lines the inside of arteries, making them more pliable. Defective elastin could cause creased ear lobes to form and also make blood vessels rigid and more prone to plaque formation.
The bottom line? Whether or not an ear lobe crease is a marker for increased heart disease risk is still unclear. Ultimately, other risk factors such as family history and lifestyle habits are more important, but if you do have an ear lobe crease, point it out to your doctor and take extra efforts to reduce the risk of heart disease by leading a healthy lifestyle.