The Luck of the Draw

The Plan will help you attack most of the risk factors discussed in this chapter. But some, like the ones listed below, you’re stuck with. Even so, keep in mind that your power to reduce your overall CHD risk is still monumental.

Leg length. A British study of 2,512 men ages 45 to 59 found those with the shortest legs had more heart attacks and new incidents of angina than men with longer legs. Researchers in Wales monitored the men for 15 years to gauge their risks of developing heart disease and found men with shorter legs—even those who weren’t short overall—had higher levels of fibrinogen and cholesterol and were more likely to be insulin resistant. Researchers suspect that nutritional and environmental circumstances during childhood, which affected growth rates and leg length, also play a role in cardiac health.

Baldness. When researchers at Harvard Medical Schoo! compared patterns of baldness with incidence of CHD in 22,071 male physicians, they found that the balder a man was (particularly if he had baldness on top of the head), the higher his CHD risk.

Earlobe creases. More than 30 studies over the past 30 years have suggested an increase in heart disease risk among certain people (not Asians or Native Americans) whose earlobes have a crease. In one study in which 264 patients from a coronary care unit or catheterization lab were followed for 10 years, researchers found those with creased earlobes were indeed more likely to have had a coronary event, and those with two creased earlobes were more likely still.

In the cases of baldness and earlobe creases, the connection with heart disease is likely genetic, That is, the gene for baldness and earlobe creases may also play a role in the development of CHD.

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