A study produced by the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, USA, has identified how genetic and lifestyle factors may influence heart health. The findings may have key implications for understanding hair loss
New genes of interest
This study, published in the American Journal of Human Genetics
, selected blood pressure as a research criteria because it is a strong indicator of general cardiovascular health.
Cardiologist and co-first author of the study, Lisa de Las Fuentes, emphasises why understanding blood pressure is so important:
“Blood pressure involves everything from how well your heart squeezes, to how well your blood vessels relax, to how well your brain signals your adrenal glands telling your kidneys to hold on to saltwater... It’s a sophisticated and elegant system, and we’re still working to understand it so we can better treat our patients".
In order to carry out this investigation researchers analysed the smoking status, blood pressure - systolic and diastolic - and genetic makeup of 610,091 participants.
A diverse patient population was selected, including people with European, African, Asian, Hispanic and Brazilian ancestries.
They discovered lifelong smokers
with high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, are likely to have a different genetic background to lifelong smokers with normal blood pressure readings.
Furthermore new genes of interest, such as those which are involved with the function and structure of cilia - the short, eyelash-like filaments found in tissue cells - were identified, which may prove useful when treating hypertension in the future.
The study also linked blood pressure to genes associated with addiction, including alcohol and nicotine dependence. These lifestyle factors
have already been linked to exacerbated hair thinning as well as premature Male Pattern Baldness
Blood pressure and hair loss
A 2007 European Journal of Dermatology
report discovered a strong link between high blood pressure and hairloss. Similarly, findings from a study published in 2017 by the University of Bonn
revealed that going bald can be an indicator of health conditions, including high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer.
Additionally, a Bangalore study
evaluated 1,000 Indian men in the IT sector with hereditary hair loss between the ages of 25 and 35, and found 85 per cent had hypertension. The hair loss clinic researchers who carried out this study hypothesised that 'metabolic disorders such as coronary heart disease, obesity and hormonal disorders' could be the basis of Male Pattern Baldness.
This is at odds of the widely recognised understanding regarding the causes of androgenetic alopecia: that an inherited genetic predisposition to the testosterone by-product DHT
is the main cause of genetic hair loss in both men and women.
Following a Greek study which revealed the correlation between Male Pattern Baldness and aortic stiffness, Yorkshire-based GP Tillman Jacobi
even suggested re-classifying this common hair loss condition
from a cosmetic issue to an indicator of potential medical concerns.
Non-invasive Male Pattern Hair Loss treatment
is currently centred around the only two clinically-proven medications for genetic balding, both of which are licensed by the UK's MHRA and approved by the USA's FDA, to promote hair regrowth and stabilise shedding. One of these - minoxidil
- when taken in tablet form, is actually prescribed to treat high blood pressure. Its hair growth properties were discovered
when people being treated for hypertension noted this side effect. This oral, dose-dependent medication was then developed into appropriate topical formulations to treat hair loss in both men and women.
Though no known contraindications exist with regards hair loss treatments and hypertension, nor hypotension (low blood pressure), it is Belgravia
policy to take extra precautions in these circumstances. Based on the patient's medical profile, level and pattern of shedding, specialists will discuss options for minoxidil use. This will often recommend starting on a lower dose then building up gradually.
In addition to using the key topical and oral drugs mentioned, a variety of supporting hair growth boosters
are also included in many bespoke courses for a 360 degree approach to healthy hair growth, scalp care and preventing baldness
. These products range from the highly-targeted Hair Vitalics for Men
food supplement to home-use LLLT devices such as the HairMax LaserBand
Whilst using hair loss treatments may help to retain, regrow or prevent male pattern baldness, if an active genetic predisposition is present, this can still be considered a potential bio-marker for underlying health issues - it may simply mean that men will have to admit their condition to their GP if they no longer display the tell-tale visual signs of it.