JAN 14, 2021 11:06 AM PST

Cortisol in Your Hair Could Predict Your Risk of Heart Attack

WRITTEN BY: Jasper Cantrell

The everyday tracking of health has become far easier these days with the advent of fitness watches and other technology. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg!

Cardiovascular disease is one of the top health issues in every country across the world. While a healthy lifestyle can keep one’s cardiovascular health in check, sometimes it isn’t enough. For these cases, we have many tests available, from imaging to biomarker-based tests, to help doctors follow any issues that may occur.

What if we could use hair to do the same thing, with every haircut also doubling as a test for cardiovascular risk? Well, that could be a part of future cardiovascular diagnostics. Hair is more than something to be styled as biological compounds in the body can accumulate in newly grown hair, which can then be cut off and tested.

In a new study out of Linkoping University in Sweden, a team examined cortisol levels in the hair of patients who had previously suffered an acute myocardial infarction (a heart attack). Cortisol is a molecule in the body often considered a stress marker. Typically involved in regulating many key systems in the body, too much cortisol has been linked to many diseases, including cardiovascular disease. Tracking its hair levels could very well prove an excellent passive way of measuring one’s risk of a heart attack.

The team gathered a group of middle-aged men and women who had previously suffered from a heart attack and looked at cortisol accumulation in their hair. Both male and female groups had elevated hair cortisol levels compared to healthy controls. There was a high cortisol threshold that, once crossed, was significantly associated with a heart attack. This was shown to be an independent indicator of heart attack risk.

Most people get a haircut every month or two, and we may have just been throwing away a source of health information. This study shows that hair cortisol levels could act as an indicator of cardiovascular risk. It makes you think about what other information you might be missing out on with every haircut.

The study concludes, “The biomarker HCC was independently associated with AMI, even after adjustments for the major established cardiovascular risk factors. This study shows that chronic stress seems to be a new and significant risk factor for AMI.”

Sources: Nature Scientific Reports, UW Health

About the Author
  • Hey everyone! My name is Jasper and, considering I am pretty new here to Labroots, I figured I would introduce myself. I received my bachelor’s from the University of California at Riverside back in 2016. I started off my career a few years ago with a job at a University over in New York, before moving over into the industry. I'm happy to be writing content for Labroots, and I hope you enjoy it!
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