FinlandFinland

Short people higher risk of heart disease than tall people

09.06.2010

Tampere – Short people are at greater risk of developing heart disease than tall people, according to a meta-analysis of 52 populations-based studies including 3 million people by Finnish researchers (Eur. Heart J., doi:10.1093/eurheartj/ehq155). The team, headed by Pekka Karhunnen from Tampere Medical School, found that people smaller than 160.5 cm on average were approx 1.5 times more likely to develop cardiovascular heart disease or coronary heart disease (CHD), or to live with the symptoms of both diseases, or to suffer a heart attack and die from it than were tall people above 173.9 cm. According to the researchers, their findings have clinical impact as a possible independent factor to be used in calculating people's risk of heart disease. Up to now, it is not known why short stature should be associated with increased risk of heart disease, but the researchers hypothesize that shorter people have smaller coronary arteries and smaller coronary arteries may be occluded earlier in life due to factors that increase risk, such as a poorer socioeconomic background with poor nutrition and infections that result in poor foetal or early life growth. Smaller coronary arteries also might be more affected by changes and disturbances in blood flow. However, recent findings on the genetic background of body height suggest that inherited factors, rather than speculative early-life poor nutrition or birth weight, may explain the association between small stature and an increased risk of heart disease in later life.

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