Can a poorly knotted tie be dangerous to your health?

Has the tie become a dangerous gift to give to a man? We’re not talking about whether it’s his style, but indeed whether it poses a real danger to his health. Neurologists at the Schleswig-Holstein University Hospital in Germany conducted a study to evaluate the effects of this clothing accessory on the brain. Can wearing a tie really be dangerous?

“The knot is to the tie as the brain is to the man,” said François de La Rochefoucauld. But you still have to know how to tie it! The Windsor knot (the most common) was chosen for the study reported here. The German researchers recruited 30 young men and divided them into two groups: “necktie” and “no necktie.” The scientists instructed the men in the first group to knot their ties just tight enough to feel “a slight discomfort:” that somewhat disagreeable sensation often felt by men who are not accustomed to wearing neckties. Each participant in the experiment then underwent an exam using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Published in Neuroradiology, the results indicated that, once knotted, ties decreased blood flow to the brain by 7.5% on average. In 5 of the 15 men, there was a 10% drop. But tie lovers don't need to despair yet: the study’s researchers specify that this is a clinically acceptable variation that does not affect neural activity (indirectly correlated to small changes in blood flow). However, the authors suggest that wearing a necktie could be riskier in older people, heavy smokers, or subjects diagnosed with a vascular disease. Restricting blood flow to an organ effectively reduces oxygen supply, which can impair cognitive abilities.

No offence to Honoré de Balzac, who published a Treatise in 1830 on the art of wearing this clothing accessory, but sporting an overly tightened necktie can be dangerous; and this is true both when worn freely or imposed (the study's authors refer to this as "socially desirable strangulation!"). Author Paulo Coelho also expressed this ambivalence when it comes to wearing tie: “The only really useful function a tie serves is the sense of relief when you get home and take it off; you feel as if you've freed yourself from something, though quite what you don't know.”

Of course, we could end this article by suggesting you offer a “bow tie” rather than a "necktie," but wouldn’t that also be a poisoned chalice?
Source: Robin Lüddecke, Thomas Lindner, Julia Forstenpointner, Ralf Baron, Olav Jansen, Janne Gierthmühlen, “Should you stop wearing neckties?—wearing a tight necktie reduces cerebral blood flow”, in Neuroradiology, vol.60, August 2018. Sciences et Avenir, online article by Hugo Jalinière, 07-12-2018

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