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Looking old may signify heart risk

LOS ANGELES — Want a clue to your risk of heart disease? Look in the mirror. People who look old — with receding hairlines, bald heads, creases near their ear lobes, or bumpy deposits on their eyelids — have a greater chance of developing of heart disease than younger-looking people the same age, new research suggests.

Doctors say the study highlights the difference between biological and chronological age.

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‘‘Looking old for your age marks poor cardiovascular health,’’ said Dr. Anne Tybjaerg-Hansen of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

She led the study and gave results Tuesday at an American Heart Association conference in Los Angeles.

A small consolation: Wrinkles elsewhere on the face and gray hair seemed just ordinary consequences of aging and did not correlate with heart risks.

The research involved 11,000 Danish people and began in 1976. At the start, researchers documented their appearance, tallying crow’s feet, wrinkles, and other signs of age.

In the next 35 years, 3,400 participants developed heart disease (clogged arteries), and 1,700 suffered a heart attack.

The risk of these problems increased with each additional sign of aging present at the start of the study.

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