Is Heart Disease Associated with Androgenic Hair Loss?

Heart Disease and Androgenic Hair Loss

 At first sight appear to be completely different and unrelated conditions, but if we look the physiopathology behind both conditions then we can understand the relationship between them.
Insulin resistance is defined as an impaired biological response to insulin which in turn produces an insufficient transport of glucose between the skeletal muscle, fat tissue, and liver. Insulin resistance is the underlining problem in both type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Both of these conditions are well known risk factors for coronary heart disease.

Androgenic alopecia is a disorder which causes hair loss in genetically predisposed men and women.

It requires levels of circulating androgens, and a genetic predisposition. In these individuals, the hair follicles are genetically sensitive to androgens which cause them to atrophy or “shrink.” Previous studies published in the early 2000′s have shown early androgenic hair loss to be related to coronary artery disease.

A study published in 2010 focused on the possible association between insulin resistance and androgenic hair loss.  There were 128 people enrolled in the study, 80 male cases and 48 healthy male controls. The average age was 36 years old and height, weight, blood pressure between the two groups were not found to be statistically significant. Insulin levels were measured in both groups and a HOMA score (which measures insulin resistance) was performed for all individuals. The insulin levels were found to be statistically insignificant, but the HOMA score varied significantly between the two groups. In the cases group 33% had insulin resistance compared to 12% in the control group.

Is Heart Disease Associated with Androgenic Hair Loss?

The association between androgenic hair loss and serious cardiovascular conditions such as myocardial infarctions has been documented. The exact mechanism behind this association is not well understood. A previous study showed the presence of androgenic receptors on arterial walls, but the actual effects of these androgens on the walls was not documented.

Insulin resistance on its own is a risk factor for coronary artery disease. When associated with other risk factors such as smoking, obesity, hypertension, or high cholesterol the exponential risk and we have what we know as metabolic syndrome. There are many mechanisms behind insulin resistance and coronary artery disease which basically have to do with LDL (bad cholesterol) receptors, an accelerated atherosclerosis (plaque accumulation on artery walls) development, and reduced atherosclerosis resorption.

The reason for increased insulin resistance associated with androgenic hair loss is poorly understood. More studies are needed in order to understand what role androgens play in the development of insulin resistance. More studies are also needed to measure the risk and learn under what circumstances preventive treatment could be indicated for coronary heart disease.

In conclusion, a lot of research has been done in the past 10 years in this field of investigation. We still don’t understand if androgenic hair loss is causing coronary artery disease because of the androgens, androgens and insulin resistance, just insulin resistance, or maybe other factors such as dyslipidaemia.

To this point one thing is clear. Multiple studies have confirmed that having early androgenic hair loss is associated with insulin resistance, and coronary artery disease. We need further studies in this field to plan therapeutic guidelines.



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