long ring finger may be good news.
length of a young boy's finger may provide a clue as to
whether he will be at risk of a heart attack in early
Scientists at Liverpool
University have established a link between the length
of baby boys' fingers and their chances of going on
to have a heart attack at an unusually young age.
They believe the
link could provide doctors with a simple way to to spot
potential heart disease victims at a very early age.
The research shows that boys with shorter
ring fingers tend to be at greatest risk.
This is because these
boys tend to have lower levels of the male sex hormone
testosterone, which is known to protect against heart
The genes that are
indirectly responsible for the production of testosterone
and the female hormone oestrogen also control the development
of the fingers.
Lead researcher Dr John Manning stated "Males tend to have
a relatively longer ring finger compared to the index finger
"This is a very early
trait and it is under the influence of sex hormones.
"For a man, the ring
finger tends to be about 2% longer than the index finger.
The longer your ring finger, the more protected you are
against heart attack, because the more testosterone you
"There is a relationship
between the ratio between these two finger lengths and
the age at heart attack of people who do have heart attacks."
The ratio between the
two fingers remains the same throughout life.
Short ring fingers
did not necessarily mean that boys would go on to have
heart attacks, but should alert their parents to do what
they can to lessen the risk.
Dr Manning said: "This
is an indicator of risk independent of things like smoking
and diet, so you can adjust your diet and stop smoking
and so on, if you are in a high-risk group."
Dr Manning and Dr Peter
Bundred examined 151 male heart attack victims in Merseyside.
They found the age
range for heart attacks in men where the index finger
was relatively long was 35 to 80 years of age, but in
those with relatively long ring fingers it was 58 to 80.
Dr Manning has previously
uncovered links between finger-length and vulnerability
to depression and sporting ability.
The research is to
be published in the British Journal of Cardiology.