Our earlobes are generally smooth regardless of their size, color, shape and thickness, but still, there are some people that have a crease in their earlobe. This line splitting the earlobe in two is also called “Frank’s Sign”.
It was named after Sanford Frank, the man who first identified it an important sign rather than a simple line on the skin. In 1973, he wrote a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine and explained the possible link between an ear crease and heart disease that he discovered in his research.
Ear Crease And Heart Disease
There have been numerous studies on this field and they all agree whit Frank’s research. Sadly, none of them has definitively determined why heart disease is possibly linked with the earlobe crease.
One theory claims that lack of blood flow to the ears leads to the formation of the lobe wrinkle because if the blood can’t get through to the ears, there’s probably a blockage somewhere in the body.
Another theory says that weakening of elastin and collagen fibers in the ears also indicates a similar weakening of coronary arteries. The coronary arteries end at the ears so vascular disease in this part of the body points toward a vascular disease further up the line.
One Japanese study claims that a diagonal earlobe crease (DELC) is the result of shortened cell telomeres, areas at the end of each strand of DNA protecting cells from damage. Short telomeres are often related to metabolic syndrome. According to this study, DELC “might be a useful indirect marker of high-risk patients.”
A Noticeable Symptom
A visible earlobe crease can indicate cardiovascular disease even without other symptoms. In a study published in 2014, a man with hypertension, who displayed no symptoms of heart problems, except for Frank’s sign on both earlobes, went to an outpatient clinic. He was referred to further testing and they all showed that his left main coronary artery was 80% blocked and his right was 90% blocked. “The patient underwent 3-vessel coronary artery bypass graft surgery and has since done well.”
Prevalence of DELC may also be partly cultural/regional aside from the possible correlation between Frank’s sign and heart disease.
Another Japanese study revealed a strong correlation between ear crease and heart disease, the prevalence among the 1000 study subjects was less than expected.
“It is concluded that: the prevalence of EC [ear crease] in Japanese adults is very low compared with the results of previous studies in Europe and America; the prevalence of EC tends to increase with advancing age but is unrelated to other risk factors for CHD [coronary heart disease]; a statistically significant association between EC and CHD is seen from multivariate analysis using both clinical and angiographic criteria in the diagnosis of CHD.”
Can Ear Lobes Give Other Signs?
DELC can be an indicator of heart disease, but not combined with other conditions. One study examining DELC as a reliable identifier of vascular disease and retinopathy in diabetics found that it wasn’t.
So, scientists managed to discover a grading system for DELC that can show the severity of possible cardiovascular risk:
- Unilateral incomplete – least severe
- Unilateral complete – moderate
- Bilateral complete – most severe
The most important thing is never to ignore this sign because early prevention is the best treatment for a cardiovascular disease.