Short people at higher risk of heart disease
Short people may be at an increased risk of coronary artery disease because of certain genetic markers, according to a new study from the University of Leicester in the U.K.
Researchers looked at data from more than 65,000 people with coronary artery disease and 128,000 people without the disease. Coronary artery disease is a form of heart disease where plaque buildup in the arteries blocks the supply of blood to the heart.
The researchers then analyzed 180 genetic markers that affect a person’s height to see if there was any connection to coronary artery disease.
Their findings, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, revealed that, on average, for every 2.5-inch increase in height, the risk of coronary artery disease decreased by 13.5 percent. This means that for someone who is 5 feet tall, the risk of coronary artery disease would be about 32 percent higher than someone who is 5 feet 6 inches.
Additionally, the study found a link between height-increasing genetic markers and a decreased risk for coronary artery disease. People with the most height-increasing genetics were 26 percent less likely to have coronary heart disease than those with the least height-increasing genetic markers. Other findings linked the height genetic markers to a person’s cholesterol and fat levels, which are known contributors of heart disease, and suggest that the genetic link is partially a result of higher cholesterol and fat levels in shorter people.
The researchers pointed out that while this data is the first to show an association between increased height genetics and lower coronary heart disease, the link was only found in men and not women. But the fact that there were fewer women in the study could have affected its ability to detect the significance in women.
While the study found an association between height genes and heart disease, the findings weren’t a cause-and-effect relationship, so height genetics do not necessarily cause heart disease. Still, given the results. the researchers recommended that shorter people should consider beneficial lifestyle changes, such as eating a more plant-based diet, exercising regularly and avoiding smoking.