Increased all-cause and cardiac morbidity and mortality associated with the diagonal earlobe crease: a prospective cohort study

Am J Med. 1991 Sep;91(3):247-54. doi: 10.1016/0002-9343(91)90123-f.


Purpose: To ascertain whether the diagonal earlobe crease (ELC) is associated prospectively with future death or cardiac events over 8 years of follow-up in two sets of patients: those with known coronary artery disease (CAD) and those without evidence for CAD.

Patients and methods: We performed a prospective, observational study of 108 patients in four cohorts (each matched for age, sex, and race, but differing in the presence or absence of both a diagonal ELC and CAD in 1979 to 1982). Follow-up information was gathered by telephone interviews, and dates and causes of death were determined by reference to death certificates (n = 48), hospital records (n = 9), or attending physician statements (n = 1).

Results: During 8 to 10 years of follow-up, 58 of the patients had died. Patients with ELCs had poorer survival rates than those without creases, by stratified log-rank test (p = 0.006 for the cohorts thought not to have CAD, and p = 0.058 for those with CAD). Cardiac death rates (due to acute myocardial infarction, "sudden cardiac death," or heart failure) were also higher for patients with ELCs: 8.0 versus 0.9 cardiac deaths per 100 patient-years (p less than 0.001) in patients without CAD at entry, and 11.7 versus 3.7 cardiac deaths per 100 patient-years (p = 0.008) in patients with CAD in 1979 to 1982. Cardiac event rates (cardiac death, nonfatal myocardial infarction, or coronary artery bypass surgery) were also higher in those with ELCs: 10.4 versus 1.4 events per 100 patient-years (p less than 0.001) for those without known CAD, and 15.8 versus 5.7 events per 100 patient-years (p = 0.009) for those with CAD.

Conclusion: These results suggest that a diagonal ELC is associated with increased all-cause and cardiac morbidity and mortality. Patients with ELCs may be at higher risk for coronary events, and might be especially cautioned to control or reduce other cardiac risk factors, even if currently without diagnostic evidence of CAD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Coronary Disease / mortality*
  • Coronary Disease / pathology
  • Death, Sudden
  • Ear, External / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Rate