Heart disease has been one of the leading causes of death in the United States for decades. What traits can help show a person whether they are at a higher risk of getting a heart attack? A new study shows that height is one of them.

CBS news reports on the new study.

The new research was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. It shows that people who are shorter have a higher predisposition towards getting a heart attack.

How can a person's height influence their long term health and threat for certain medical conditions in multiple ways? Recently this new study showed that there is growing evidence that shorter people face an increased risk for coronary heart disease.

Dr. Narula, a cardiologist and CBS medical correspondent, commented on the study.

She said, “We've known about a link since the 1950s about height and health. But what we didn't know is if your height is influencing your heart health or are there external factors like your nutrition as a child or socioeconomic status.”

How was the study conducted?

Researchers conducted genetic testing to sequence the genomes of around 200,000 people who do and do not have heart disease to figure out whether height is a factor.

What were the findings?

Researchers analyzed the results and identified genetic code that influenced height and looked at the connection it has to coronary heart disease.

The conclusion was remarkable. The experts found that for each two and a half inches shorter, a person had a 13.5 percent heightened risk for coronary heart disease.

“For example, a person who is 5 feet tall has an approximately 13.5 percent higher risk of heart disease than someone who's 5 feet 2.5 inches tall. Similarly, compared with a 6-foot-tall person, someone who is 5 feet tall could have a 60 percent higher risk for coronary heart disease,” according to CBS.

Researchers decided to take the study a step further and do more in depth analysis. The experts looked at the influence of 12 risk factors such as blood pressure, weight and diabetes. They found that only LDL (bad cholesterol) and tryglycerides could make up for part of the connection between height and threat for heart disease. However, this did not provide a full detailed explanation for the association.

Dr. Narula further commented on the study saying,

“There are a lot of other hypotheses of what might be going on. For instance, if you are shorter you have smaller caliber diameter coronary arteries that might be easier for those arteries to get blocked over time. What researchers propose is that there are shared biological pathways that produce bone and muscle growth through hormones and proteins might also be causing increased cell growth in the artery walls and inflammation. And then the third possible theory is that maybe tall people somehow live healthier lifestyles. They exercise more, they smoke less and that's really what we're seeing.”

But Narula did concede to the point that this study clearly shows the link between the height and heart disease connection in men and other previous research shows that there is a similar connection for women as well.

Gerry Oginski
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