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Beauty and the Heartbeat

You can measure your risk for cardiovascular disease just by looking in the mirror. We reveal the surprising signs.

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Beauty and the Heartbeat

Having a healthy ticker is key for good health (duh!) but did you also know that cardiovascular health is directly tied to your beauty?

There are subtle, sneaky red flags hiding in plain sight in the form of beauty issues. Pay attention to what your body is trying to tell you and you can halt the advance of cardiovascular disease.

What is your mouth telling you?
Take your smile, for instance. Smiling is the hallmark of happiness, but for some, there’s a reason to frown: Your pearly whites will increase your risk of heart disease if you don’t treat them right. Periodontitis—marked by bright red, swollen gums that bleed easily—is a gum disease caused by inflammation and infection, which can eventually lead to the breakdown of the tissue and bone that support your teeth.

Inflammation in the mouth may sound the alarm, boosting inflammation throughout the body, including in the arteries, where it may lead to a heart attack and stroke. In fact, a 2007 meta-analysis published in the American Heart Journal found that people with periodontitis were 114 percent more likely to develop coronary heart disease.

Turn that frown upside down: A simple habit that most people forgo can help put the kibosh on periodontitis. You guessed it—flossing. When you floss as well as brush your teeth, you kick out the bad bacteria that can cause inflammation in the gums.

Balding and…earlobes? Yep—both can show signals
For guys, an ever-increasing bald spot is often a blow to their ego, but hair loss may mean their heart health is also taking a hit. A loss of locks—namely, going bald at the top of the head—may signal a loss of circulation that can put them at risk for cardiovascular disease.

And while you’re staring at your man’s head, check his (and your own) earlobes. It sounds bizarre, but wonky folds in your earlobes can reveal telltale signs of heart disease risk. Believe it or not, the earlobe is considered an important skin marker that may point to the presence or severity of coronary artery disease. Diagonal creases across the lobe are associated with higher rates of cardiac events, so check those lobes often.

Beware of chronic puffiness
If your rings are too tight on your fingers or you have to squeeze yourself into your shoes, you may chalk it up to putting on a few extra pounds or being bloated after sucking down a few margaritas. But a puffy face, fingers, arms or legs may mean a more serious condition is lurking beneath the surface. 

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