Welcome back! Last week, we talked about staying healthy in a sick world. If you missed that blog and would like to catch up, click HERE.
This week we are going to discuss creases in our earlobes. Yep, you heard me right. Why do some people have them and others do not? Do they mean anything? Does that meaning have studies to back it up or is it just a myth? I had to find out, and now you will have all the knowledge that I obtained while researching this subject. I know…it’s so exciting! Let’s chat…
So by this stage of the blog, you’ve run to a mirror and looked at your earlobe, right? Am I right? OK, maybe not yet, but you will, trust me. It’s going to happen.
I first became interested in this topic when I was young. A lady we knew had a deep crease in her earlobe and my friends’ parents told me that meant she was “not long for this world”. Their prediction haunted me, and ever since then, I’ve noticed people’s ear lobes.
Our bodies often give us telltale clues that something is wrong. Our nails pit, our skin gets hives, and our hair falls out. Your earlobes could be sending you a crucial message about your cardiovascular health. Deep diagonal creases in the ear lobe are known as Frank’s sign. This crease may signal poor blood supply to the earlobes or could be a symptom of weakening in the blood vessels. It could also be related to aging.
Frank’s sign was first described in 1973 by an American physician (Sanders T. Frank) as “a diagonal crease in the earlobe that starts from the tragus to the edge of the auricle in an angle of 45 in varying depths”. Dr. Sanders T. Frank M.D. was a pulmonologist who observed this crease in 20 patients with angina. Since then, numerous studies have been performed, with astonishing results.
One such study published in The American Journal of Medicine studied 241 patients who were hospitalized with a stroke and found that 79 percent had Frank’s sign. This study, based in Israel, made the following conclusions:
- Frank’s sign could predict ischemic cerebrovascular events.
- Patients with classical cardiovascular
risk factors had Frank’s sign at a higher
- Frank’s sign was more prevalent among
patients with cerebrovascular accidents
compared with patients with transient
- An increased rate of Frank’s sign was
found in patients admitted with an acute
ischemic stroke and who suffered from
myocardial infarction in the past.
“Frank’s sign is a sign found in the physical examination that predicts ischemic stroke independently and is found in patients with a high risk of developing ischemic stroke even in the absence of ischemic heart disease. It is more common in older age, higher in the presence of cardiovascular risk factors such as hypertension and diabetes, and more frequent in the presence of previous myocardial infarction or ischemic heart disease. Adding Frank’s sign to the list of classic risk factors for the development of ischemic heart disease and stroke in the future should be considered“.
According to Standford Medicine, enough studies have been completed that there is actually a grading system for Frank’s Sign.
“As it is typical with many physical signs, observation is only the first step in accurate examination. When you find the sign, it has a grading system that has been linked to incidence of cardiovascular events based on length, depth, bilateralism, and inclination.
• Unilateral incomplete – least severe
• Unilateral complete
• Bilateral complete – most severe
Other classifications systems exist, but without the association with increased cardiovascular events:
• Grade 1 – wrinkling
• Grade 2a – superficial crease (floor of sulcus visible)
• Grade 2b – crease more than 50% across earlobe
• Grade 3 – deep cleft across whole earlobe (floor of sulcus not visible)”.
If you are the type of person who likes to review studies, here are some links to the most recent ones available:
2006: National Library of Medicine: reported that an ear crease in people younger than age 40 was a sign of CAD in up to 80 percent of cases.
2012: The American Journal of Cardiology: 430 patients with no history of CAD were examined for ear creases and then given a CT scan for CAD. Those with an ear crease were more likely to have CAD.
2011: NYU School of Medicine: concluded that ELC predicts CAD more often than traditional risk factors and that it may be useful for identifying patients with the disease.
As always, check with your doctor. They’ll most likely test your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and other risk factors.
Taking everything — including your ears — into account creates a clear overall picture of your risk and determines what steps you can take to protect your heart health.
Something to keep in mind, before you decide that Dr. Google and Linda Tate said you have heart disease, is this little known tidbit about my husband, David Tate.
When David was in college, he decided to have one of his ears pierced. He came home from school to visit his parents, and his father, noticing the earring, refused to speak to him the entire visit. David decided to remove the earring, but to this day he carries a wrinkle in that ear lobe, a telltale sign of his “rebelliousness” in college.
Not every ear lobe wrinkle is a bad sign, but any crease that has no known cause is worth getting checked out.
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