Can your ears predict your risk of this common killer?
In a 2017 study of 241 patients hospitalized for acute stroke, researchers found that over 78 percent of them had what is known as Frank’s sign. Frank’s sign, named after American physician Dr. Sanders T. Frank, is a diagonal crease in the earlobe that starts at the tragus and continues at a 45 degree angle.
Previous studies have shown that Frank’s sign could be a predictor of coronary artery disease. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, Frank’s sign could indicate premature aging and loss of skin elasticity. It may be more relevant in a younger population.
“Many times, these studies examine the patients after they have been diagnosed with a certain condition,” says Dr. James Vales, Advocate Medical Group physician at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill. “I haven’t seen a thorough study that looks at the overall percentage of individuals who have ear creases which, from my experience in seeing patients, I would expect to be pretty high.”
Not knowing if there is a true correlation or not, Dr. Vales advises not to expect your physician to begin ordering cardiac tests after just a quick look at your ears.
That is not to say you shouldn’t ask your physician if you notice you have Frank’s sign or anything else that concerns you. You just don’t need to run away scared from the mirror.
About the Author
Lynn Hutley, health enews contributor, is coordinator of public affairs and marketing at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center and Advocate Eureka Hospital in central Illinois. Having grown up in a family-owned drug store, it is no surprise that Lynn has spent almost 18 years working in the health care industry. She has a degree in human resources management from Illinois State University and is always ready to tackle Trivia Night.