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The Earlobe Crease, Coronary Artery Disease, and Sudden Cardiac Death: An Autopsy Study of 520 Individuals

Edston, Erik MD, PhD

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: June 2006 - Volume 27 - Issue 2 - p 129-133
doi: 10.1097/01.paf.0000221067.73173.d7
Original Article

The majority of previous studies have demonstrated a correlation between diagonal earlobe creases (ELC) and coronary artery disease (CAD).

In this study of 520 forensic autopsy cases, the earlobes were studied and photographed before autopsy, and the existence of a diagonal ELC was noted in 55%. The cause of death, the degree of coronary atherosclerosis, aortosclerosis, and cerebrosclerosis, as well as heart, kidney, and spleen weights, were noted in each case. The body mass index (BMI), thickness of abdominal fat, baldness, and excessive hair in the meatus externa of the external ears were also assessed. Nonparametric methods were used in the statistical calculations.

It was found that ELC was strongly correlated with CAD in both men and women (P < 0.0001) but with sudden cardiac death (SCD) only in men (P < 0.04). The sensitivity of the ELC sign was 75% and the positive predictive value (ppv) was 68%. In individuals below 40 years, the ppv was as high as 80%. Using multiple logistic regression analysis, ELC was found to be the strongest independent risk factor for CAD and SCD apart from age and BMI (both genders), as well as baldness and hair in the meatus externa (in males).

It is concluded that in a patient population similar to that in the present study the ELC sign could be especially useful in screening for premature CAD in younger individuals.

From the Department of Molecular and Clinical Medicine, Division of Forensic Medicine, University Hospital, Linköping, Sweden.

Manuscript received April 26, 2005; accepted July 26, 2005.

Reprints: Erik Edston, MD, Department of Forensic Medicine, University Hospital, 581 85 Linköping, Sweden. E-mail:

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.