Hair may reveal clues about heart health

September 6, 2010 9:33:28 AM PDT
Increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the hair shaft could raise the risk of heart attack.

Levels of cortisol have previously been measured in blood, urine and saliva, but these measurements only provide a snapshot of stress at the moment.

Hair cortisol can provide a longer-term assessment of stress.

In a new study, hair cortisol levels were actually a more important predictor of heart attack risk than other known heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure, smoking and cholesterol.

The findings appear online in the journal Stress.