Wrinkled earlobes & heart disease


Since 1958 there has been a debate as to whether an ear lobe crease indicates heart disease. Although there have been many studies on the correlation between an ear lobe crease and heart disease, the debate continues, and different ideas have been presented as to why a diagonal ear crease develops.


An article in the Dear Doctor Colum printed on health.uab.edu sites research performed by Dr. William Elliot in 1978. Dr. Elliot studied 108 people during an eight year period and found that an ear lobe crease was an indicator of heart disease. The article further states that a follow-up study of 1,000 people admitted into medical service at a large hospital confirmed Dr. Elliot's previous research. Of 373 people with ear lobe creases, 275 (74 per cent) had coronary heart disease, while the remaining 98 (26 per cent) with ear lobe creases, did not. Although Dr. Elliot's study and the follow-up study did not give definitive proof of an ear lobe crease and heart disease, it certainly suggests further investigation is needed and that a close watch should be done on those with an ear lobe crease.


An ear lobe crease is a diagonal line that begins where the ear lobe attaches to the head. It then runs diagonally, backward, toward the lower edge of the ear lobe. If you have an ear lobe crease, it is obvious. An ear lobe crease can occur in men or women.


Some physicians believe that the ear lobe may well be the "window to the heart" and others believe it's nothing more than something that occurs for those who sleep on their sides or is a part of the natural ageing, and therefore, wrinkle process. An article by Dr. W. Gifford Jones published on canadafreepress.com sites a study done by Dr. Renuka Diwan, assistant professor of dermatology at Johns Hopkins Medical School. In Dr. Renuka's study, he asked 234 men and women attending a dermatology clinic (all were over the age of 30) which side they slept on. He also questioned them about their heart disease history. His study suggested that there was a strong association between an ear lobe crease and which side they slept on. Dr. Renuka further reported that those who slept on both sides had ear lobe creases on both ears.


Because the correlation between an ear lobe crease and heart disease is still debatable, some physicians believe it would be wise to use the ear lobe crease as a possible indicator of heart disease. Continuing in the article written by Dr. Gifford Jones, there was a second follow up study done on Dr. Elliot's work. A study of 6,000 people who were entered into the medical services confirmed that 60 per cent of those with an ear lobe crease suffered from heart disease. This figure is high enough to suggest further studies are warranted.


Dr. Gifford Jones and Dr. Diwan suggest different reasons as to what causes ear lobe creases. The ear lobe is one of the softest and thinnest parts of the body, and it has small blood vessels called arterioles. Some researchers, Dr. Gifford Jones says, believe that degeneration of elastic tissue around the arterioles causes the crease. This is the same type of change associated with hardening of the arteries and could explain the correlation. Dr. Diwan suggests that the breakdown of the elastic tissue around the arterioles is nothing more than a part of the ageing process and sleep positions.


Because the medical community remains divided on the correlation between ear lobe crease to heart disease, it would appear to be beneficial to look in the mirror to see if you have an ear lobe crease. As Dr. Gifford Jones points out, the percentages of having an ear lobe crease and having heart disease do suggest that it would benefit both the patient and the medical community to remain diligent and to continue to study this phenomenon.