Earlobe crease linked to atherosclerosis

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Takeaway

  • The anterior tragal crease (ATC) is independently associated with intima-media thickness of the common carotid artery (IMT-CCA), a marker of subclinical atherosclerosis.

Why this matters

  • Changes in earlobe crease are easily recognized by healthcare professionals and may help identify patients at risk of developing clinical atherosclerosis.

Study design

  • Researchers interviewed consecutive patients (N=147; mean age, 61±8 y; 49 men and 88 women) to obtain the history of traditional risk factors for atherosclerosis.

  • Ear examinations were performed by an experienced dermatologist.

  • Patient IMT-CCA was measured by a specialist who was unaware of the ear examination results, using carotid duplex ultrasound.

  • Funding: Chulalongkorn University.

Key results

  • Multivariate analysis confirmed a significant association between the presence of ATC and IMT-CCA when adjusted for other factors (adjusted βATC=.010).

Limitations

  • Patients in the study were older and from Thailand; findings may not be generalizable to other populations.

  • Patients with ATC were on average 10 y older than those without ATC; future studies should consider age-matched or age-stratified designs.