Short people 50% more likely to have heart disease
How tall are you? The answer may give you some guide to your life expectancy and risk of heart disease.
A review of 52 research studies looking at the relationship between height and heart disease has concluded that short people are 50% more likely to develop and die from heart disease than taller people.
All told data on over three million people were examined. Not all studies broke findings into gender but roughly speaking, for men, 'short' means below 165.4 cm or 5 feet 5 inches and 'tall' means over 177.5 cm or 5 feet 10 inches. (Short women are below 153 cm or 5 feet; tall women are over 166.4cm or 5 feet 5.5 inches.)
Writing in the European Heart Journal, the reviewers admit that the reason for this ‘peculiar association is not known’. In their suggestions for future research they speculate that smaller size may mean smaller arteries which become more easily blocked. They also point out the importance of a child’s early-life environment, stress-levels and diet to both his or her size and future health.
It could also be that short people are discriminated against and find life more stressful which increases their risk of heart disease. This would fit in with a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry suggesting that short men are more likely to commit suicide than taller ones.
Many other risk factors
But none of this means that short people should rush off to their doctor. Or that tall people can stuff their faces with pizza, beer and ciggies until the cows come home.
In an interview with the BBC, lead researcher Dr Tuula Paajanen stressed that ‘height is only one factor that may contribute to heart disease risk, and whereas people have no control over their height, they can control their weight, as well as lifestyle habits such as smoking, drinking and exercise. All of these together affect their heart disease risk.'
Professor Jaakko Tuomilehto, a public health doctor at the University of Helsinki, told the BBC that short adults might benefit from realising their increased risk. ‘Most of us know approximately our own height ranking, and, if we are at the low end, we should take coronary risk factor control more seriously.’
Waist is commonly used as a simple and effective guide to possible heart problems – over 38 inches is a cause for concern. Height could be viewed in a similar way.
- Read the original article: Short stature is associated with coronary heart disease
Page created on June 10th, 2010
Page updated on June 10th, 2010