Earlobes and heart disease

Written by melissa smith
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Earlobes and heart disease
A smooth, uncreased ear lobe could indicate a lower risk of heart disease. (ear wax image by green 308 from Fotolia.com)

You might have heard that a distinctive crease across your ear lobe is an indicator that you are more likely to have a heart attack. Before you run to the mirror to check your ear lobes, inform yourself of the facts about ear lobes and heart disease.

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History

According to the UAB Medicine website, in the 1970s, Dr. William Elliot first proposed a connection between a diagonal crease in the ear lobe and heart disease. Elliot reported in "The American Journal of Medicine" that of 1,000 people he studied, 74 per cent who had ear lobe creases also had coronary artery disease. Eighty-four per cent of people with no ear lobe creases had no coronary artery disease. There was no connection between those with ear lobe creases and any lifestyle risk factors such as smoking. Likewise, there was no link between ear lobe creases and pre-existing medical conditions that might cause coronary artery disease.

Identification

You can tell if you have an ear lobe crease by simply looking in the mirror. According to a "New York Times" article, a crease appears as a distinctive line or "fold mark" across the ear lobe, the soft flap of cartilage at the bottom of your outer ear where you might wear an earring.

Misconceptions

Just because you have a crease does not mean you need a bypass today. According to the Writing Center at UNC Chapel Hill, it is well known in the scientific community that a correlation between two things---for example, the fact that they appear together---does not necessarily mean that there is cause and effect involved. The University of Maryland Medical Center Online Medical Reference Encyclopedia points out that according to some experts, ear creases and heart disease are simply two things that come with age.

If you have an ear lobe crease and you haven't recently been to your doctor for a check-up, or if you have symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath, you might have cause for concern. Err on the safe side and go see your doctor.

Theories/Speculation

According to the Life Extension Foundation's website, the circulatory issues that arise from heart disease could cause the blood vessels in the ear lobe to collapse, allowing the tissues to crease. UAB Medicine's website reports that William Elliot theorised in his original work that both ear lobe creases and hardening of the arteries are caused by a reduction in the body's elastin, the protein that allows the tissues to spring back when compressed.

Controversy

In her study debunking the connection between ear lobe creases and heart disease, dermatologist Renuka Diwan found a strong connection between the ear on which individuals had a crease and the side on which they tend to sleep. Diwan argued that the ear lobe crease was a result of a combination of ageing and the physical pressure of the head on the ear, according to Dr. W. Gifford Jones in an article for "Canada Free Press."

Prevention/Solution

Whether you have an ear lobe crease or not, it's important to receive a regular physical examination from your doctor. According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation online article "The Basic Principles of Healthy Eating," maintaining a healthy diet featuring fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins will help prevent heart disease. Their top recommendations for heart-healthy living featured on their website also include regular exercise, avoiding smoking and stress reduction.

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