Height Matters in Coronary Artery Disease Risk

People whose short stature is due to genetics have a higher risk of developing coronary artery disease (CAD) a UK team has determined.

People whose short stature is due to genetics have a higher risk of developing coronary artery disease (CAD) a UK team has determined.

In a study published online April 8 in the New England Journal of Medicine, Christopher Nelson, PhD of the University of Leicester and colleagues there and at other institutions investigated the association between height and CAD using height-associated genetic variants.

They found that for every 6.5 cm change in height the risk of CAD also changed, increasing 8% as height got lower. Conversely, taller stature was protective.

“There is a primary association between a genetically determined shorter height and an increased risk of CAD,” they wrote. That link “is partly explained by the association between shorter height and an adverse lipid profile,” they continued. “Shared biologic processes that determine achieved height and the development of atherosclerosis may explain some of the association,” Nelson concluded.

The analysis involved 65,066 patients with CAD and 128,383 controls. Most CAD patients (73.8%) were men as were 49.8% of controls. The average ages was 57/3 years.

The findings did not hold true for women, but the researchers were not sure whether that was a significant result or whether it was because men were over-represented in the subjects.

The researchers adjusted for smoking status, systolic blood pressure, history of diabetes, body-mass index, lipid markers, alcohol consumption, education level and occupation.”

They were unable to determine the precise mechanisms that appear to make shorter people more vulnerable to CAD. Commenting on the study, David Friedman, it could show that these patients “need to be more aggressively monitored and evaluated for heart disease.”

He noted that the study appeared to conclude that vascular growth of coronary artery blood vessel size along with a tendency to have high cholesterol could be linked to genetic factors also associated with shorter height.