While obesity, high cholesterol (particularly high levels of triglycerides), diabetes, peripheral artery disease, and high blood pressure are symptoms that most people associate with the risk of heart disease, a crease in your earlobe can be another sign of cardiovascular disease. It may not be something to which you give much thought at first, but it's something you shouldn't ignore. Although research is ongoing for a link between an earlobe crease and heart disease, do yourself a favor and see a doctor who will take a look and evaluate you for other risk factors of heart disease.
Possible Heart-Related Cause of Earlobe Creases
Even though a wrinkle in your earlobe can be a normal part of aging, like skin, blood vessels age. Therefore, if you have blood circulation problems, narrowed or blocked arteries may cause creases in your earlobes.
Normally, the earlobe is smooth, but when blood flow decreases, capillary beds that supply blood to the earlobe collapse. Over time, diminished blood flow leads to a crease or fold in the earlobe. Similarly, the changes that occur in the tiny blood vessels of the ear may also occur in the blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart.
Atherosclerosis—also known as hardening of the arteries—is a common cause of poor blood circulation. When blood vessels harden because of plaque deposits that build up along the artery walls, the heart has a harder time pumping blood throughout your body, slowing blood flow to the body's organs and tissues. The risk of atherosclerosis increases as you get older, and if the disease develops, it can get worse over time.
Other Possible Risk Factors for Heart Disease
Although cardiovascular disease encompasses a number of conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels, symptoms can vary. But like with the other early signs of cardiovascular disease—including irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, dizziness, and extreme fatigue—if you notice a crease in your earlobe, you should see your doctor, who may refer you to a cardiologist for further diagnostic testing.
A cardiologist will ask you about your medical history to identify other possible risk factors such as:
Use of oral contraceptives
Diet high in cholesterol and saturated animal fats
Certain medications can also increase your risk of heart disease. Some over-the-counter cold, flu, and allergy medications contain decongestants, which can cause your blood pressure to rise–a risk factor for heart attack and stroke. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, can increase your blood pressure when taken in high doses as well.
Azithromycin and other antibiotics in the same class can cause changes in the heart's electrical system, which can lead to a rapid heartbeat or other potentially fatal irregular heart rhythms. You are at particular risk if you have low blood levels of potassium or magnesium, or if your heart rate is slower than what is normal, possibly signaling an arrhythmia. For adults, a normal resting heart rate is 60 to 100 beats per minute.
Along with asking about a family history of cardiovascular disease, a cardiologist will want to know if you have a history of kidney disease, thyroid disorder, or other chronic illness that can damage or weaken your heart. For more information, contact a cardiologist at a location such as the Billings Clinic.