Can your ears predict your risk of this common killer?

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.

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  1. Regina Stremich August 2, 2018 at 4:08 pm · Reply

    What crease are they talking about in this article. What & where is the Tragus?
    need a diagram of Frank’s sign

  2. Regina Stremich August 2, 2018 at 4:09 pm · Reply

    there is no equation to solve !

    • Lynn Hutley

      The second picture in the article shows the crease in the ear lobe that is considered to be Frank’s sign. The tragus is the inner part of the external ear, above where the crease in the photo begins.

  3. Regina Stremich – Just a guess on my part because I’m not sure where the Tragus is either. But I’m guessing it’s that line on his earlobe. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong.

  4. Frank’s sign is caused by side sleeping. It may be more prevalent in people with lower skin elasticity which could have some relevance in a younger population. It may also be more common on the drivers side due to sun damage. It likely has no real statistical importance overall. 78% of stroke sufferers are probably right handed as well. They are not comparing the stroke group to a demographically similar non-stroke group.

About the Author

Lynn Hutley
Lynn Hutley

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.