What if there was a way to look at someone and tell if they had heart disease? What if this sign was so subtle that you've been seeing it every day on other people – or on yourself each time you look in the mirror? Would you want to know about it? I believe knowledge is power and so I want you to know about “The Earlobe Crease.” For decades, some researchers have believed that a diagonal line in the earlobe is a visual sign of heart disease. Controversial? Yes. In this review, I will not only share with you some of the research on this mystery, but I'll also, first time, reveal the results of my own decades long experiment on myself. My hope is to not only educate you, about something interesting but more than that, hopefully spark a conversation with your doctor so that you can get more personalized information about whether or not the earlobe crease is relevant to you.
What Is The Earlobe Crease?
The earlobe crease (ELC) refers to a diagonal line or crease (basically, a wrinkle) in the skin of the earlobe. You can see it on people when you look at their ears. In some people, there may be one or several creases per earlobe. The crease may appear as either a fine line or penetrate deep into the skin, altering the direction of the earlobe.
I have seen some creases so deep that the earlobes of people are actually bent, pointing laterally, away from the head! The crease often starts
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on one ear and later progresses to both ears. When both ears have creases, it said to be bilateral. Men tend to have more ELCs than women and the crease is rare in children.
Because the crease often occurs at a diagonal angle, it is also called “DELC” (diagonal earlobe crease).
The first formal report of the earlobe crease was made in 1973 by Dr. Sanders Frank. Because of his observation, it is sometimes called “Frank's Sign”.
Earlobe Crease / Heart Disease Theories
Over the years, there have been several theories put forth to explain what the ear crease (ELC) represents. Here is just a few of them:
1. The ELC is a marker for heart disease.
2. The ELC reflects blockages in blood vessels.
3. The ELC is formed over time because of how we sleep.
4. The ELC is the result of aging related changes in the earlobe and is not related to heart disease.
5. The ELC is a sign of premature aging.
Earlobe Crease In History
While not officially “discovered” until the 20th century, there is evidence that the earlobe crease was known to our ancestors. For example, the earlobes of those depicted in some ancient Greek statutes contain earlobe creases. If the ELC really is a marker for heart disease, this fact lends even more evidence that the disorder has been an issue for thousands of years.
Attribution: By English: Following Hadrian (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Earlobe Crease Research
As part of this review, I tried to find relative research on the association between the earlobe crease and heart disease. To be fair, I also looked for studies showing no relationship. To locate studies, I searched the National Library of Medicine (Pubmed.gov) for the following words:
- Earlobe Crease
- Ear lobe Crease
- Diagonal Earlobe Crease
- Diagonal Ear Lobe Crease
I purposely picked these words in the hope of casting the widest net. In other words, I wanted to find as many studies as I could. One drawback to this review is that it's limited to only studies in published in English.
Because many of the studies are complex, I will provide a short summary of each investigation and its basic conclusions. I've linked to the studies also to help you in your own research.
Earlobe Heart Disease Studies
In a small study of 50 people from 1977 entitled Ear lobe creases and heart disease, researchers noted that, of all the heart disease risk factors they looked at, “the ear–lobe crease seemed to be correlated best with CHD (heart disease)”
Researchers in 1983 looked at 1,000 people in a study titled Ear lobe crease and coronary artery disease. 1,000 patients and review of the literature. They noted “a strong correlation between coronary artery disease and the ear lobe crease.”
These researchers however did not see an association in those who were Native American, Oriental or in children who had a medical condition called Beckwith's syndrome.
Researchers in 1986 looked at 350 people. Their paper, Relation between diagonal ear lobe crease and ischemic chronic heart disease and the factors of coronary risk, found that 65% of those with heart disease had ear creases (only 23% of those without creases had the disease).
A 1989 study published in the Indian Heart Journal, titled Ear-lobe crease and ear-canal hair as predictors of coronary artery disease in Indian population, looked at 215 people and noted that the ELC -as well as having hair in the ear canal – was a better predictor of heart disease than other factors. They also noted higher cholesterol levels in those with ear creases.
It's well known that negative stress is related to heart disease. Researchers in 1989 noted that of the 143 people in their 50 s, 60s and 70s's they looked at, all had higher levels of anxiety than those who did not have earlobe creases.
In 1990, researchers looked at 100 autopsies of men (50-79 yrs of age) who did not die from heart disease. They compared the depth and length of ear creases to cholesterol levels and the degree of plaque in the arteries. They noted that the deeper and longer the ear lobe crease was, the greater the plaque was in the coronary arteries.
They also found that these same people tended to have higher total cholesterol levels too. To be fair, not all studies find higher cholesterol levels in people with ear creases.
In a 1992 study titled Diagonal earlobe crease as a marker of the presence and extent of coronary atherosclerosis, researchers looked at over 1,400 people. The people were split into group I (1086 people) where no heart disease was diagnosed and group II (338 people) that had heart disease.
The earlobe crease was present in 28% of those who had no heart disease symptoms and 65% in those who had heart disease. In other words, the crease was present over twice as much in those who had heart disease. After tweaking their statistics to take into consideration both age and gender, the researchers still noted that the earlobe crease was 58% more likely in people with heart disease than those without heart disease.
In a 2004 study titled Bilateral diagonal earlobe crease and coronary artery disease: a significant association, researchers looked at 415 people. Those investigators noted that the earlobe crease was “significantly associated with heart disease and coronary risk factors.”
A 2006 investigation titled The earlobe crease, coronary artery disease, and sudden cardiac death: an autopsy study of 520 individuals, researchers looked at the earlobes of over 500 men and women who had died. It was concluded that the presence of the earlobe crease “strongly correlated with CAD in both men and women” (the collocation was significant).
Furthermore, in people under 40 years old, the earlobe crease predicted – by about 80% – the presence of heart disease. It was concluded that the earlobe crease “could be especially useful in screening for premature heart disease in younger individuals.”
Is the ear lobe crease linked to changes inside the carotid artery? A 2007 study titled Diagonal ear–lobe crease is associated with carotid intima-media thickness in subjects free of clinical cardiovascular disease attempted to find out. These researchers, took 65 men (average age 58 years) with ear creases and compared them to 65 men of the same age who did not have an ELC. This was the first study to show a significant connection between ELCs and a thickening of the carotid artery walls (carotid intimal thickness).
Their conclusions were corroborated by 2009 study titled Diagonal Ear-Lobe Crease is Correlated With Atherosclerotic Changes in Carotid Arteries. Here, researchers looked at 212 Japanese people. They found an significant association between the earlobe crease and thickening of the carotid artery wall. The crease was also significantly associated with being, male, older and having high blood pressure.
Another study from 2009, involved 573 Koreans, age 20-80 who were free from diabetes or high blood pressure. In their paper titled Relationship Between Earlobe Crease and Brachial-ankle Pulse Wave Velocity in Non-hypertensive, Non-diabetic Adults in Korea, they noted the earlobe crease was significantly associated with greater artery stiffness.
Telomeres are pieces of DNA that are thought to be related to the aging process. They are often described as being like the plastic caps at the ends of shoelaces. It's thought that shorter telomeres may reflect greater aging and susceptibility to disease.
In a 2009 paper titled Diagonal earlobe crease are associated with shorter telomere in male Japanese patients with metabolic syndrome, researchers looked at 34 dietetic Japanese men, under age 70 ,who either had bilateral (both ears) earlobe creases (17 people ) or didn't (17 people). They found that men with bilateral ear lobe creases had shorter telomeres than those who did not have creases.
In a 2012 paper titled Relation of diagonal ear lobe crease to the presence, extent, and severity of coronary artery disease determined by coronary computed tomography angiography, researchers looked at the blood vessels of 430 people. They concluded that the presence of a diagonal ear lobe crease was “independently and significantly associated with increased prevalence, extent, and severity of CAD” (heart disease).
In 2012, researchers in China published Predictive Value of Auricular Diagnosis on Coronary Heart Disease. This investigation compared 50 people with heart disease to 50 people who did not have heart disease. These researchers noted that “the presence of an ear lobe crease (ELC) was significantly associated with coronary heart disease.”
Interestingly, these researchers also noted significantly more hair growth in the ears – especially the right ear – in those who had heart disease. This finding ear hair was also noted in the 1989 Indian study listed above.
Metabolic syndrome or “pre-diabetes” is getting worse in industrialized nations like the US. In 2012, researchers looked at 3,835 Koreans (age 20-79) to see if there was a relationship between pre-diabetes and the ELC. Their paper, titled Association Between Earlobe Crease and the Metabolic Syndrome in a Cross-sectional Study, noted that the odds of having pre-diabetes significantly increased (by about 11%) if the ELC was present. That said, the use of earlobe creases as a diagnostic tool was said to be “limited.”
Basically, it sounds like they were saying, take a look at the earlobes, but just because someone has an ELC may not mean they have metabolic syndrome or diabetes. Fortunately, there are better tests for metabolic syndrome such as hemoglobin AIC and blood sugar tests. For more on diabetes see this.
Their conclusions are similar to a 2009 study of diabetics in India. Those researchers noted that while almost 60% of of the 1,414 diabetics over age 40 who were studied had creases in ear lobes, they did not feel it was a good screening tool for diabetic retinopathy .
A meta-analysis is a “study of other studies.” Basically, researchers look at the past research, do some statistics and see if they can find a consensus or overall all similar agreement in what all the studies found. One such analysis, published in 2014, titled Ear lobe crease as a marker of coronary artery disease: a meta-analysis, looked at previous studies that included over 31,000 people. Those researchers concluded that the risk of heart disease was more than 3 times higher in those who had an ear crease compared to those who didn't.
In a 2014 study titled Incremental value of diagonal earlobe crease to the Diamond-Forrester classification in estimating the probability of significant coronary artery disease determined by computed tomographic angiography, researchers noted that the presence of a diagonal earlobe crease in 430 people “was the only independent predictor” of having coronary arteries blocked 50% by plaque.
In a 2014 study titled Diagonal earlobe crease and coronary artery disease in a Chinese population, researchers looked at 449 people in china. Of those, 250 had heart disease and 199 didn't. A diagonal crease in the earlobe was found in 46% of those without heart disease and 75% in those who did have it. Those with the crease had more blocked blood vessels and more blocked coronary blood vessels than those who did not have a crease.
A 2014 study titled Earlobe crease may provide predictive information on asymptomatic peripheral arterial disease in patients clinically free of atherosclerotic vascular disease, looked at whether or not the ELC was linked to peripheral artery disease (PAD) in 253 people.
Peripheral artery disease (PAD) refers to blocked blood vessels in the arms and legs. Sometimes, people with PAD experience burning or camping in the legs when they walk. PAD increases the risk of heart attack and strokes.
Those who had the crease in their earlobes had “increased prevalence, extent, and severity of PAD in patients without overt atherosclerotic vascular disease.” In other words, the earlobe crease was associated with a worsening of heart disease even when the people were not yet showing any symptoms . This study corroborates a 2010 investigation of 60 people that also noted a relationship between ear creases and PAD.
In 2014, Visible Age-Related Signs and Risk of Ischemic Heart Disease in the General Population was conducted. It involved 10,885 people in Denmark who were followed from 1976 to 2011. Basically, the researchers noted that looking old for your age was associated with worse heart health during the lifespan.
The aging factors linked to heart disease in this study were the earlobe crease, male pattern baldness, and xanthelasmata (fat and cholesterol deposits around the eyes). This infers that the earlobe crease (and the other factors mentioned) might reflect sub-clincial heart disease or, in other words, heart disease before you start having symptoms. The more looking old for your age signs a person had, the greater the risk of heart disease and heart attack. Fortunately, having having grey hair was connected to heart disease.
A 2015 study titled The Combined Effect of Ear Lobe Crease and Conventional Risk Factor in the Diagnosis of Angiographically Diagnosed Coronary Artery Disease and the Short-Term Prognosis in Patients Who Underwent Coronary Stents looked at 956 people who were undergoing a heart procedure (angiography and coronary stent implantation).
Those researchers noted that the diagonal earlobe crease (DELC) was associated with heart disease and was mostly significant in those who had more than 4 heart disease risk factors.
The researchers further put forth that having earlobe creases on both ears (bilateral creases) was associated with higher CRP levels (an inflammation marker), greater severity of heart disease, and higher possibility of developing major adverse heart problems after heart surgery.
What about stroke? In a 2015 study, involving 1,000 people, titled Earlobe crease shapes and cardiovascular events, researchers found the ELC was associated with heart attacks and strokes. This study also looked at how deep into the earlobe the crease appeared. Interestingly, the study found the the depth of the crease did not play a role in cardiovascular disease. This study appears to corroborate a 1998 Korean investigation also noting a link between ear creases and stroke risk.
A 2016 study titled Diagonal earlobe crease associated with increased epicardial adipose tissue and carotid intima media thickness in subjects free of clinical cardiovascular disease compared 65 people who had the earlobe crease with 65 people – of the same age and gender -who did not have it. All the people were in their late 50s.
All the people in this study were “apparently healthy.” In other words, none of them had been diagnosed with heart disease.
The researchers noted significantly greater fat in the heart in those who had the earlobe crease. They also noted greater degree of thickening of the carotid arteries in those who had the ELC compared to those who did not have it.
Another 2016 study, involving 4,635 people, titled Did Dumbo suffer a heart attack? independent association between earlobe crease and cardiovascular disease, noted a significant relationship between the earlobe crease and high blood pressure as well as having a history of heart disease.
Heart disease is thought to be related to inflammation in our cells. Doctors sometimes measure this with a with a blood test for “CRP” although there are other compounds too that are linked to cellular inflammation. In this 2016 study titled The association of circulating inflammatory and oxidative stress biomarker levels with diagonal earlobe crease in patients with atherosclerotic diseases, researchers looked at 223 people with heart disease risk factors. Those people were divided into 2 groups – whether they had an earlobe crease (134 people) or those who didn't have it (89 people).
The researchers noted that those having the earlobe crease had more oxidative stress and cellular inflammation than those who did not have the crease. Those with the ELC had more high blood pressure, more diabetes and had higher CPR levels than those who did not have it. Those with the crease also tended to be male too.
Conflicting Earlobe Crease Studies
To say that the earlobe crease is controversial is an understatement. So, to be fair, here are studies showing that the ELC was not associated with heart disease.
In a 1984 study titled Lack of association of diagonal earlobe crease with other cardiovascular risk factors, researchers looked at 686 people and found no association between the ear lobe crease and heart disease.
Researchers in 1986 looked at 100 people to try to find a connection between ELCs and heart disease. The paper they published, titled, The ear lobe crease sign and coronary artery disease in aortic stenosis, failed to find a link, leading the researchers to conclude that “that this physical sign (ELC) is of little practical value in this clinical setting.”
Researchers conducting a study published in 1989 titled Ear lobe crease and coronary artery disease in patients undergoing coronary arteriography concluded that the ELC was not related to heart disease. This study involved 125 people who were having a heart procedure (coronary angiography) performed. While the ELC was observed in 65 of the 125 patients (52%), it was not associated with age, high blood pressure, gender, smoking history, family heart health, BMI or previous heart attack.
In a 1992 study titled The diagonal ear lobe crease (Frank's sign) is not associated with coronary artery disease or retinopathy in type 2 diabetes: the Fremantle Diabetes Study, researchers looked at 1,082 people in Australia. Almost 80% of these people had type II diabetes (a condition that raises the risk of heart disease).
While the earlobe crease was detected in 55% of the people, after adjusting for age, gender and other variables, the ELC was not found to be an independent risk factor in either heart disease or diabetic retinopathy (diabetes-related eye damage).
A 1995 study titled The diagonal ear lobe crease for evaluating coronary risk noted that the ELC was not associated with heart disease but was associated with age and being overweight. This study involved 670 people.
A study from 1995 titled Earlobe crease in women: evaluation of reproductive factors, alcohol use, and Quetelet index and relation to atherosclerotic disease, found no association between alcohol use and ELC in 625 causation women.
Summary Of Research
Here is a quick rundown on the studies summarized above. Remember, in the table, “ELC” refers to earlobe crease.
|Study Title||Number Of People In Study||Study Results|
|Diagonal earlobe crease associated with increased epicardial adipose tissue and carotid intima media thickness in subjects free of clinical cardiovascular disease||65 people||ELC associated with more fat in the heart and carotid artery thickening|
|Did Dumbo suffer a heart attack? independent association between earlobe crease and cardiovascular disease,||4635 people||ELC associated with high blood pressure and history of heart disease|
|The association of circulating inflammatory and oxidative stress biomarker levels with diagonal earlobe crease in patients with atherosclerotic diseases||223 people||ELC associated with greater oxidative stress and cellular inflammation|
|Earlobe crease shapes and cardiovascular events||1,000 people||ELC was associated with heart attacks and strokes|
|The Combined Effect of Ear Lobe Crease and Conventional Risk Factor in the Diagnosis of Angiographically Diagnosed Coronary Artery Disease and the Short-Term Prognosis in Patients Who Underwent Coronary Stents||956 people||ELC associated with heart disease|
|Visible Age-Related Signs and Risk of Ischemic Heart Disease in the General Population||10,885 people||looking old for your age - including ELC -linked to heart disease|
|Earlobe crease may provide predictive information on asymptomatic peripheral arterial disease in patients clinically free of atherosclerotic vascular disease||253 people||ELC linked to peripheral artery disease|
|Diagonal earlobe crease and coronary artery disease in a Chinese population||449 people||ELC associated with more heart disease and blocked blood vessels|
|Incremental value of diagonal earlobe crease to the Diamond-Forrester classification in estimating the probability of significant coronary artery disease determined by computed tomographic angiography||430 people||ELC associated with having significantly blocked blood vessels|
|Ear lobe crease as a marker of coronary artery disease: a meta-analysis||Meta-analysis of over 31,000 people||ELC associated with 3x greater risk of heart disease|
|Association Between Earlobe Crease and the Metabolic Syndrome in a Cross-sectional Study||3,835 people||ELC associated with pre-diabetes although probably not a good screening tool|
|Predictive Value of Auricular Diagnosis on Coronary Heart Disease.||100 people||ELC associated with heart disease|
|Relation of diagonal ear lobe crease to the presence, extent, and severity of coronary artery disease determined by coronary computed tomography angiography,||430 people||ELC associated with the prevalence, severity of heart disease|
|Diagonal ear lobe crease in diabetic south Indian population: is it associated with Diabetic Retinopathy?. Sankara Nethralaya Diabetic Retinopathy Epidemiology And Molecular-genetics Study (SN-DREAMS, Report no. 3)||1,414 people||ELC not a good screening tool for diabetic retinopathy|
|Diagonal earlobe crease are associated with shorter telomere in male Japanese patients with metabolic syndrome||34 people||ELC associated with shorter telomeres|
|Relationship Between Earlobe Crease and Brachial-ankle Pulse Wave Velocity in Non-hypertensive, Non-diabetic Adults in Korea||573 people||ELC associated with stiffer arteries|
|Diagonal Ear-Lobe Crease is Correlated With Atherosclerotic Changes in Carotid Arteries||212 people||ELC associated with thicker carotid artery walls|
|Diagonal ear-lobe crease is associated with carotid intima-media thickness in subjects free of clinical cardiovascular disease||130 people||ELC associated with thicker carotid artery walls|
|The earlobe crease, coronary artery disease, and sudden cardiac death: an autopsy study of 520 individuals||500 autopsies||ELC strongly associated with heart disease especially in people under 40|
|Bilateral diagonal earlobe crease and coronary artery disease: a significant association||414 people||ELC associated with heart disease|
|The diagonal ear lobe crease for evaluating coronary risk||670 people||ELC not associated with heart disease,. It was associated with being overweight|
|Earlobe crease in women: evaluation of reproductive factors, alcohol use, and Quetelet index and relation to atherosclerotic disease||625 people||ELC not associated with alcohol use|
|Diagonal earlobe crease as a marker of the presence and extent of coronary atherosclerosis||1,424 people||ELC associated with heart disease|
|The diagonal ear lobe crease (Frank's sign) is not associated with coronary artery disease or retinopathy in type 2 diabetes: the Fremantle Diabetes Study||1,082 people||ELC not associated with heart disease or diabetic retinopathy|
|Earlobe crease and atherosclerosis. An autopsy study||100 autopsies||ELCs that were deeper/longer associated with worse heart disease|
|Diagonal ear-lobe crease: possible significance as cardio-vascular risk factor and its relationship to ear-acupuncture.||143 people||People with ELC had greater levels of anxiety|
|Ear lobe crease and coronary artery disease in patients undergoing coronary arteriography||125 people||ELC not associated with heart disease|
|Ear-lobe crease and ear-canal hair as predictors of coronary artery disease in Indian population||215 people||ELC associated with heart disease and higher cholesterol levels.|
|Relation between diagonal ear lobe crease and ischemic chronic heart disease and the factors of coronary risk||350 people||More ELCs in people with heart disease than without heart disease|
|The ear lobe crease sign and coronary artery disease in aortic stenosis||100 people||ELC not associated with heart disease|
|Lack of association of diagonal earlobe crease with other cardiovascular risk factors||686 people||ELC not associated with heart disease|
|Ear lobe crease and coronary artery disease. 1,000 patients and review of the literature||1,000 people||ELCs associated with heart disease|
|Ear lobe creases and heart disease||50 people||ELC was a better predictor of heart disease than other risk factors|
Gender And Ethnicity And Earlobe Creases
Do men get the ELC more than woman – or vice versa? As is pointed out by this 2016 study, it appears that generally, men have more earlobe creases than women do. The review article also points out that Caucasians tend to have the most ELCs while Asians tend to have the least.
Does Time Of Day Matter?
If you are checking your own earlobes it may be best to check after you have been awake for at least and hour or so. Because many of us may sleep on our sides, it's possible that this might influence the appearance of the crease.
Could This Just Be Skin Aging?
As we get older, our skin ages – and that includes skin of our ears too. Being outside without protection, accelerates photo-aging (sun-induced aging). As far back as 1983, researchers noted that people with earlobe creases had greater elastin breakdown in their ears than did those who did not have creases.
This hints that maybe the earlobe crease may not be a sign of heart disease but rather generalized aging skin. In other words, as we get older, our skin ages (ears too) and so too does the trend to develop heart disease. Reinforcing this idea is the finding that children rarely get creases in their ears.
To play devils advocate, if the ELC is the result of changes in elastin or collagen that make up the earlobes, is it possible that this change parallels changes in the elastin or collagen of blood vessels too? To say it another way, could the earlobe crease be a viable sign of artery stiffness?
This 2009 study of 573 people in Korea (20-80 years of age) did find that the earlobe crease was significantly associated with artery stiffness. This 2013 study involving 75 people also found more artery stiffness in those who had a crease in the earlobe.
In a study from 1980, researchers noted that some of the people with the ELC had ” tears of the elastic fibers” of their ears. Those researchers speculated that the tears may be due to reduced blood flow to the earlobe, leading to the development of creases.
Why Don't Doctors Believe This?
I've spoken to several doctors over the years about the earlobe crease – including cardiologists. The response most give me is that they don't believe the earlobe crease is a marker for heart disease. Looking at the evidence, I have to wonder why it would not even be considered? Even if it is a medical anomaly, it's something people can see for themselves and because of that, I'd hope doctors might use this as an opportunity to have a conversation with patients about the importance of staying healthy.
If we accept that blockage of the small blood vessels in the penis are related to erectile dysfunction (ED) and that ED can be an early sign of heart disease, is it possible the same thing might be happening in the small blood vessels of the earlobes?
I first heard of the earlobe crease when I was 13 years old (yes, really!), while watching an episode of the old Merv Griffin talk show. Back then, Merv would periodically bring on a long-haired research scientist named Dirk Pearson, who used to talk about all sorts of far out stuff that was appealing to a geeky kid like me. One day, the topic was the earlobe crease. Dirk, later went on to write a book called Life Extension.
That day began my experiment. Over the next 40 years, I periodically checked my ear lobes.
- 20s: nothing
- 30s: nothing
- 40: nothing
At about 45, I started to see a little line in my earlobe. Now, at 52 years of age, both earlobes each have 2 thin, fine lines. What does this mean?
To the real scientists reading this, I know – I'm just one person. I know that an “n of 1” doesn't matter much. At best, I'm a case study. At worst, I'm someone who fell down the earlobe crease rabbit hole a long time ago. Do my creases mean I have heart disease? Well, I'm pretty sure I do have some degree – and you probably do too. That's because we know blood vessel damage can start in the teens. The question here is whether creases in the earlobes can be used as visible signs of that damage?
Is The Earlobe Crease Real?
Personally, I think there's something to the earlobe crease and I say that because most of the studies say there is a connection. Is it perfect? I don't think so because I'm quite sure people with perfectly smooth earlobes have had heart attacks. Obviously, correlation does not mean cause and effect and it might just be that getting older and having an earlobe crease are completely unrelated.
For the person reading this who just ran into the bathroom to check their earlobes, instead of freaking out if you have a crease, why not use this as an opportunity to see your doctor and bring this up. Say something like “Hey doc, it's been a while since I was here and I want to know about my risk of a heart attack or stroke? I'm aware of that weird earlobe crease but I want to get a better idea. What do you suggest?” If you say it like that, I'm confident most doctors will have an honest conversation with you and run some medical tests.
Even if the earlobe crease is ultimately proven to be a fluke, the important thing is that by going to your doctor, you will have more information about your heart disease risk – and if the answers you get are less than stellar, you can use that knowledge to take action to improve. And THAT is what is most important.