A particular crease in the earlobe indicates an increased risk of developing coronary artery disease, the number one killer of Americans today, says William J. Elliott, M.D., of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The crease in question commonly begins where the earlobe attaches to the head and angles diagonally toward the back edge of the ear. It can be faint or very deep and obvious, occurring in one ear or both. In Elliott’s 1,000-patient study, the earlobe crease more accurately predicted the likelihood of coronary artery disease than some other, better-known factors, like high blood pressure. But don’t panic if, on checking in your mirror, you discover you have such a crease: There’s an important difference between risk factors and diagnostic tests. If you have an ear crease, it might be wise to see a doctor for a blood pressure check and a cholesterol test to determine if you have coronary artery disease.
Adding a look at the earlobes to a checkup takes only a few seconds, costs nothing, and could lead doctors to earlier diagnosis of heart disease, says Elliott. And the earlier it is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat.