JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF
: Numerous studies in recent decades
have associated male
with the risk of cardiovascular disease. However, only
3 studies have addressed this association in female
studies considered the risk of
myocardial infarction or mortality as a result of heart
analyzing cardiovascular risk factors.
The objectives of this study were to
analyze the presence of cardiovascular risk factors
included in the Adult Treatment Panel
III criteria for
metabolic syndrome, the prevalence of carotid
testosterone, and sex
factors, hormonal (
, insulin, testosterone,
and acute phase reactant (C
, erythrocyte sedimentation
rate) variables in male and female patients with
AGA and in a control group, and to analyze
differences among the groups.
control study included 154
participants, 77 with early
onset AGA (40 male
and 37 female) and 77 healthy control subjects
(40 male and 37 female) from the dermatology
department at a university hospital in Granada,
was diagnosed in 60% of male
patients with AGA (odds ratio [OR] = 10.5, 95% confidence
interval [CI] 3.3
32.5), 48.6% of female patients with AGA (OR =
10.73, 95% CI 2.7
41.2),12.5% of male control subjects, and
8.1% of female control subjects (P
were observed in 32.5% of male patients
with AGA (OR = 5.93, 95% CI 1.5
22.9) versus 7.5% of male
control subjects (P = .005) and 27% of female patients with AGA
(OR = 4.19, 95% CI 1.05
16.7) versus 8.1% of female control
subjects (P = .032).
and insulin levels
were significantly higher in the
male and female patients with AGA versus their respective
control subjects. Mean values of fibrinogen were significantly
higher in male patients with AGA, whereas values of
reactive protein, and
were significantly higher in female
patients with AGA versus their respective control subjects.
The study of a wider sample of
patients with AGA would confirm these findings
and allow a detailed analysis of the above factors
as a function of the degree of alopecia or
between menopausal and premenopausal
The determination of metabolic
syndrome and ultrasound study of the carotid
arteries may be useful screening methods to
detect risk of developing cardiovascular disease
in male and female patients with early
and signal a potential opportunity for early
Over the past few decades, various authors have
alopecia (AGA) and cardiovascular
Some found an
increase in cardiovascular
in patients with
control study, suggested
that baldness on the vertex of the scalp was
associated with myocardial infarction
in men, and
Lotufo et al,
in a large study of
between severity of
coronary artery disease
However, other studies found no such
Only 3 studies examined this relationship in
found an association
between coronary artery disease and AGA in
female patients younger than 55 years.
Most of the above studies considered the risk
of myocardial infarction or cardiac related
mortality but did not analyze cardiovascular
No data have been published on the prevalence
of metabolic syndrome (MS) according to Adult
III criteria or of carotid
plaque in patients with AGA.
The objective of this retrospective case
study was to analyze the presence of the
cardiovascular risk factors included in the ATP
MS criteria and the prevalence of carotid
in male and female patients with
AGA in comparison with control subjects.
included 154 participants,77
with AGA (40 male and 37 female) and 77 control
subjects (40 male and 37 female) with other
dermatologic diseases from the dermatology
department at a university hospital in Granada, Spain.
Data were gathered on randomly selected days in
randomly selected consulting rooms.
Diagnosis of AGA was based on family history and
age of onset (
years), pattern of increased hair thinning on
frontal/parietal scalp with greater hair density on
occipital scalp for male patients, retention of frontal
hairline for female patients, the presence of
miniaturized hairs, and diversity of hair diameter(by
were: age of 35 to 55 years for men and
onset AGA with
or above for male patients and Ludwig stage II or above for
female patients; and signing of informed consent to study
were: other types of
hormone replacement therapy with testosterone;
contraceptives or chronic or acute corticoid therapy;
or polycystic ovary syndrome
[PCOS] characterized by the presence of two of the
following diagnostic criteria:
and/or biochemical signs of
polycystic ovaries by ultrasound); and
lymphoma or other cancers except for non melanoma skin
Inclusion criteria for control subjects
were: age of
35 to 55 years for men and women and signing
of informed consent to study participation.
Exclusion criteria for control subjects
same as described above and the presence of
The degree of AGA was determined by
application of the
V) for male
patients and the
Ludwig scale (II
III) for female
The weight, height, and abdominal circumference
of participants were measured, and their body
mass index (BMI) (kg/m2) was calculated.
Systolic and diastolic blood pressure (BP) was
measured after a 5 minute rest and again 10 minutes
later, recording the mean value.
density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol(HDL
density lipoprotein cholesterol(LDL
, insulin, sex
globulin (SHBG), D
sedimentation rate (ESR), and C
reactive protein (CRP)
levels were studied in samples drawn between 8 and
9 AM after a rest period of 30 minutes or more.
, and thyroid stimulating
hormone values were determined to rule out other
causes of alopecia.
The homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance(HOMA
IR) index (U/mg) was calculated (fasting insulin
Data were also gathered on age, sex, personal or family history
of cardiovascular disease (
55 years in father and
65 years in
mother), family history of AGA, alcoholism([40 g/d), smoking ([5
30 min/d), diet
(sodium intake),and drug intake (
, and anti
Prevalence of MS was calculated according to ATP
MS was defined by the
presence of 3 of the
circumference greater than 102 cm in men and greater than 88
cm in women;
greater than 150mg/
C less than 40 mg/
in men and less than 50 mg/
women, BP greater than 130/85mm Hg, or
Participants underwent Doppler ultrasound
, Germany) using a 5
transducer with supra
aortic trunk program and
recording with M
mode the presence of
thickness[1.5 cm) and arterial
thickening in common carotids, carotid bulb, and
internal and external carotids. The Doppler system
was also used to detect carotid flow anomalies.
student t test
was applied to compare mean
values of quantitative variables, the
to examine the normality of their distribution, and
test to study the variance.
Qualitative variables were
analyzed with x2
, when conditions for this test were not
Fisher exact test
Correlations among variables were studied
Pearson coefficient and
exponential regression technique.
Differences were considered significant at
less than or equal to .05
significant at P less than or equal to .1.
Software (SPSS 15.0, SPSS Inc, Chicago, IL)
was used for the data analyses.
We studied 40 men and 37 women with AGA, all
Among the male patients, 27.5% had stage III, 47.5% stage
IV, and 25% stage V AGA on the
Among the female patients, 70.27% had stage II and
29.73% stage III AGA on the Ludwig scale.
The mean time with alopecia was 18.45 years in the men
and 16.97 in the women (P = .42).
Mean age, weight, height, BMI, tobacco, and
are summarized in
No differences in alcohol consumption or diet (sodium
intake) were found between groups. The male and female
AGA groups did not differ in above parameters, whereas
the female group showed a lower height (172.95 vs161.32
.0001) and weight (82.85
was being administered
to 17.5% of the male group versus 78.37% of
the female group (P[.001).
No significant difference in BP was found
between patients under and not under
Only 7.5% of the male group were taking 1
No patient with AGA or control subject had
history of myocardial infarction or
The control group was formed by 40 men and 37 women with
other dermatologic diseases and without AGA.
No significant differences were found in
11.6%, P = .13),
P = .21), or oral
2.5%, P = .16)
between patients with AGA and control subjects, respectively;
83.11% of patients with AGA had a family history of
19.45% of the control subjects (P
.0001,odds ratio [OR] = 20.34,
95% confidence interval [CI]8.95
16.9% of patients with AGA had a family history of early
cardiovascular disease (
55 years in men and
65 years in
women) versus 6.5% of the control subjects (P = .045, OR =
2.92, 95% CI 1.02
No significant differences were found in family history of early
cardiovascular disease between men and women with AGA
III criteria for MS were met by
54.5% of the patients with AGA versus 10.4% of the control
.0001). The OR for MS was 10.5 (95% CI 3.3
32.5) for the male patients with AGA and 10.73 (95% CI
41.2) for the female patients with AGA.
MS was not significantly more frequent (P = .31) in the
male patients with AGA (60%) than in the female patients
with AGA (48.6%) but was significantly more frequent in
the patients with AGA than in the control subjects (60%
12.5% for men and 48.5%
8.1% for women, P
Significant differences in MS parameters between patients
with AGA and control subjects are listed in
Male and female AGA groups did not significantly differ in
the presence of any single MS variable with the exception
of the HDL
C (P = .016), which was higher in the female
No significant difference was found (P[.05) in any MS variable as
a function of the degree of alopecia in either male or female
presents the percentages of MS according to the degree
In the male patients with AGA,MS variables were independent of
, and time with AGA. In the female patients
with AGA, systolic and diastolic BP, HDL
circumference, and basal
values were independent of
age and height; elevated triglycerides were positively associated
with age (r = 0.39, P =.017) and time with AGA was negatively
associated with the HDL (r = e0.39, P = .014).
Weight was positively associated with abdominal obesity in
and women with AGA (r = 0.80, P
The MS criteria most frequently recorded in male and female
AGA groups were abdominal obesity and systolic and diastolic
was detected in 29.9% of the patients with AGA
versus 7.8% of the control subjects (P = .001).
It was recorded in 32.5% of the male patients
with AGA (OR = 5.93, 95% CI 1.5
7.5% of male control subjects (P = .005) and in
27% of female patients with AGA (OR = 4.19, 95%
16.7) versus 8.1% of female control
subjects (P =.032).
There was no significant difference in percentage
with plaque between male and female patients
with AGA (32.5%
27%, P = .60).
plaque was found in 28% of the
patients with MS (OR = 2.3, 95% CI 1.01
plaque had significantly
higher mean abdominal circumference (101.8
95.0 cm, P = .006),
, P = .085), systolic BP (133.9
124.8 mm Hg, P = .078), diastolic BP (86.7
= .04), and basal
, P =.017).
The prevalence of
plaques was not
stage in the male group but
significantly differed as a function of Ludwig
stage in the female group (P = .038) (Table III).
IR, testosterone, and SHBG values between
patients with AGA and control subjects are listed in
, defined as an insulin level greater than 10.0
, was found in male and female patients with AGA.
Male and female patients with AGA did not differ in mean values
of these hormones with the exception of
much higher in the male patients (5.15
, P =
, P = .01) and insulin (12.45
, P =.0001) values were significantly higher and
SHBG values significantly lower (24.11
/L, P =.006)
in patients with MS versus those without.
plaque had significantly higher insulin
values versus those without (14.33
In patients with AGA,
positively correlated with systolic and
diastolic BP (systolic: r = 0.18, P = .019;
diastolic: r = 0.14, P = .074).
Insulin was positively correlated with
abdominal obesity (r = 0.36, P = .0001),
(r = 0.27, P = .001),
systolic BP (r =
0.43, P = .0001), diastolic BP (r
= 0.38, P = .0001), and
basal glycemia (r =
0.45, P = .0001).
shows the mean
sedimentation rate, and
CRP values in the study groups.
Elevated levels of CRP,
noted in female patients with AGA.
Male and female patients with AGA did not differ in these
values with the exception of
in the female group (375.4
, P = .043).
mg/dL, P = .0001), D
(152.3 vs 111.6 ng/mL,
P = .01), erythrocyte
sedimentation rate (15.3
9.5 mm/h, P = .001), and CRP
, P =.016) values were significantly
higher in patients with MS than in those without.
Erythrocyte sedimentation rate values were higher in
plaque than in those without (15.9
10.3 mm/h, P =.01).
Elevated CRP values were positively correlated
with abdominal obesity (r = 0.17, P = .029)
(r = 0.20, P = .013). D
was positively correlated with abdominal
obesity (r = 0.27, P = .001) and systolic BP (r
= 0.18, P = .024).
The results of this study confirm the association between
onset AGA and higher cardiovascular risk in both
male and female groups.
We found a higher prevalence of carotid
III criteria) in patients
with AGA than in control subjects.
The prevalence of these cardiovascular risk factors
slightly differs between male and female patients with
The distribution of the potentially confounding factors of
age, weight, height, BMI, tobacco
and drug intake was homogeneous in the patients with
AGA and control subjects.
However, there was a significantly higher prevalence of
family history of cardiovascular disease in male and female
AGA groups than in control subjects.
We found a higher prevalence of
MS in the male and female AGA groups than in their
respective control groups.
Studies have reported
of 7.5% to 20%
in the general
our control subjects (male 12.5%, female 8.1%).
The relationship between cardiovascular disease and
MS is well documented. Some authors found that
individuals who met ATP
III MS criteria had a 2.59
fold greater likelihood (OR = 2.59) of a cardiovascular
event in the next 10 years.
In our study, patients with MS had a 2.3
risk (OR = 2.3) of the presence of
Abdominal obesity was recently defined as an
essential criterion for the diagnosis of MS.
A higher mean circumference was found in the men
and women with AGA than in control subjects.
patients with AGA showed no
differences with control subjects in weight or BMI.
This indicates that patients with AGA undergo an
abdominal redistribution of fat
, which is considered
an important cardiovascular risk factor and was
associated in our study with higher insulin resistance,
a key element in the MS.
et al reported an association between
onset AGA and insulin resistance in male
patients, but the mechanism of action has not been
Mean systolic BP values were higher in male and
female patients with AGA than in the control
et al also found higher BP in male patients
with AGA versus control subjects (65%
and a study of female patients with AGA reported
a relative risk of 1.69 for hypertension
have been proposed for
is that the androgens
implicated in AGA bind with
receptors, favoring BP increase;
and the other
hypertension cases, directly participates in the
development of alopecia.
In relation to the former hypothesis, the current
study found very similar testosterone values
between the groups (patients with AGA
subjects),therefore the elevated BP values in the
patients with AGA would be explained by an
increase in peripheral sensitivity to androgens
This study found significantly higher systolic BP
levels in patients with
alopecia versus control subjects, therefore these
results corroborate the second hypothesis.
recently confirmed that male
patients with AGA have elevated
Similar results were found by
et al in a
in men who had undergone
revascularization as a result of heart
found higher triglyceride values and significantly
lower HDL values in the female patients with AGA but
not in the male patients with AGA.
Elevated triglycerides and low HDL levels are related
to the transition from
In our study,
values were higher in the
patients with AGA than in control subjects, and the
difference was significant in the female group.
et al found that 21% of patients with AGA had
diabetes versus 12% of control subjects.
found a higher
prevalence of carotid
male and female patients with AGA than in
The prevalence of carotid
not previously been studied as a predictor of
cardiovascular disease in patients with AGA.
The presence of the majority of
constitute MS was positively
related to the presence of
CRP, fibrinogen, and
values were significantly higher in the
female patients with AGA versus their control
subjects, and these parameters were related to
MS and carotid
In men with AGA, fibrinogen values were
significantly higher than in control subjects;
however, no differences were observed in CRP or
et al reported that ultrasensitive CRP in
patients younger than 35 years with moderate or
severe alopecia increased with a rise in the
The higher prevalence of
this study may be a result of the greater peripheral
sensitivity to androgens that is produced in
transformation of the free testosterone by action of 5
into DHT, favoring follicular
The 5 a
are present in
blood vessels and heart and are implicated in the
proliferation of vessel smooth
muscle cells,30 a key
phenomenon in atherosclerosis alongside lipid
One mechanism underlying the higher frequency of
plaque in patients with AGA may be the
increase in sensitivity to androgens
at both scalp and
vascular level, promoting
The association between arterial hypertension and
AGA may be a result of the high
found in our patients.
found in the patients with AGA
in this study may explain the relationship between
AGA and cardiovascular disease.
It has also been suggested that insulin favors
vasoconstriction and nutritional deficit in scalp
follicles, enhancing the effect of DHT on follicular
Also low circulating levels of
are a strong
predictor of the risk of type 2 diabetes and are
associated with AGA, as we found in patients with
AGA in this study.
Some authors attribute the relationship between
alopecia and cardiovascular disease to
The more frequent presence of
in patients with AGA, as
found in this study, has been cited to explain the
relationship with cardiovascular disease.
situation that underlies
alopecia may increase the presence of
cytokines in arterial wall and
More studies with larger numbers of patients
are required to confirm these findings and to
analyze the pathogenic mechanisms
underlying the increase in cardiovascular risk
in patients with AGA.
the results obtained indicate an association
between AGA in male or female groups and
the cardiovascular risk factors of MS and
screening by MS criteria assessment and
carotid ultrasound in male or female patients
onset AGA may be useful to detect
individuals at risk and start preventive
treatment against the development of