Nightly News   |  April 03, 2013

Baldness linked to heart disease

According to a new report in the British medical journal “Open,” an analysis of previous studies of male baldness and heart disease found there is likely an association between hair loss and heart disease. NBC’s Dr. Nancy Snyderman reports.

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>>> we mentioned this earlier. our health news tonight is about some puzzling new research about male pattern baldness which affects upwards of 40% of the men in this country. now comes word that of all things it might be linked to an increased risk of heart disease . we get details on this tonight from our chief medical editor dr. nancy snyderman .

>> look at how large his bald spot is.

>> reporter: remedies, lotions and lasers promoting hair growth are a multi billion dollar business.

>> is you're bald!

>> reporter: our hair is a big part of self-esteem. aside from image hair loss in men may be linked to heart health.

>> there may be a common underlying mechanism such as inflammation, high blood pressure , abnormal cholesterol. these may be the things that lead to both heart disease and baldness.

>> reporter: a new report in the british medical journal "open" looked at results from previous studies. almost 37,000 men participated. after counting for risk factors like smoking, age and obesity, the report concludes there is likely an association between hair loss and heart disease . it's this type of male baldness that is getting the attention. the hair loss starts on the crown of the head and slowly spreads. the men in this category showed the highest risk of heart disease . and the bigger that bald spot , the higher the risk.

>> i wanted to go over your labs with you.

>> terrific.

>> reporter: jerry was barely out of his teens when he started losing his hair.

>> i thought, oh, my god, this is the end of the world .

>> reporter: he's now 59 and also has heart disease .

>> had i known then what i know now i probably would have been more vigilant.

>> reporter: while researchers aren't sure exactly why there seems to be a connection, they say it could be an important starting point for conversations about reducing other risk factors . an important clue that might help doctors detect problems before cardiac complications. dr. nancy snyderman , nbc news, new york.