Heart attack symptoms: An unusual sign in the ear that could signal your risk

Heart attacks are frightening experiences, and in some cases can prove deadly. In order to reduce your risk of the condition, knowing all the potential warnings is important – including the lesser-known signs. One such sign is found in a person’s ear.

For a person with normal earlobes this entails smoothness, whereas an earlobe with a crease, fold, straight line or wrinkle which appears to cut the earlobe in half could mean you’re at risk of a heart attack.

Physician Dr Sanders T. Frank published a letter in 1973 in the New England Journal of Medicine describing 20 of his patients who had earlobe creases.

The patients were under the age of 60 and suffered with angina and coronary artery blockages.

Dr Frank was the first medical professional to describe this peculiar warning sign, and noted that creased earlobes could signify something more serious such as an impending heart attack.

Numerous studies have also indicated an association with the visible external crease on earlobes and having an increased risk of atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis is a disease where plaque builds up inside the arteries.

There have been over 40 studies reiterating Dr Frank’s theory showing a strong association between unusual earlobes and an increased risk of atherosclerosis.

The cause for this association remains unclear, however, some have speculated that it is to do with a shared embryological origin.

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In a study published in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, diagonal earlobe creases and fatal cardiovascular disease was further investigated.

The study said: “The association between diagonal earlobe creases and fatal cardiovascular disease was investigated in a consecutive series of 303 coroner’s necropsies.

“Those studied all died outside hospitals in the Brighton Health District.

“Data were analysed on the cause of death and on the type of earlobe, the presence or absence of diagonal creases, age, sex, height, and any previous history of cardiovascular disease or diabetes mellitus.

“A cardiovascular cause of death was present in 154 (73 percent) of 211 with and 41 (45 percent) of 92 without diagonal creases and was associated with an increased risk of a cardiovascular cause of death of 1.55 in men and 1.74 in non-diabetic women.” 

Degeneration of the elastic tissue around the small blood vessels that carry blood to the earlobes produces earlobe crease, said Healthline.

The site continued: “This is the same type of change that happens with blood vessels associated with coronary artery disease.

“In other words, visible changes that show up in tiny blood vessels of the ear could indicate similar changes, that can’t be seen, in those blood vessels around the heart.

Other warning signs of a heart attack

When people think of classic warning signs of a heart attack, chest pain, shortness of breath and an irregular heartbeat come to mind.

However, there are many symptoms which many are unaware of.

These could include jaw pain, abdominal pain, excessive sweating or swollen ankles.

It’s imperative you speak with your GP about any unusual signs and symptoms you may be suffering with and find out what the possible cause may be. 

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