Short people more at risk of heart disease, says UK expert

  • Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times, London
  • Updated: Apr 09, 2015 21:28 IST

The shorter you are, the more your risk of coronary heart disease, according to a noted Indian-origin cardiovascular expert, Nilesh Samani, of the University of Leicester.

Samani's new study announced on Wednesday discovered that every 2.5 inches change in your height affected your risk of coronary heart disease by 13.5%.

For example, compared to a 5 foot 6inch tall person, a 5 foot tall person on average has a 32% higher risk of coronary heart disease because of their relatively shorter stature, according to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Samani said, "For more than 60 years it has been known that there is an inverse relationship between height and risk of coronary heart disease".

"It is not clear whether this relationship is due to confounding factors such as poor socio-economic environment, or nutrition, during childhood that on the one hand determine achieved height and on the other the risk of coronary heart disease, or whether it represents a primary relationship between shorter height and more coronary heart disease", he said.

"Now, using a genetic approach, researchers at the University of Leicester undertaking the study on behalf of an international consortium of scientists (the CADIoGRAM+C4D consortium) have shown that the association between shorter height and higher risk of coronary heart disease is a primary relationship and is not due to confounding factors."

Coronary heart disease is the commonest cause of premature death worldwide.

Samani, who heads the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences at the University of Leicester, said: "Height has a strong genetic determination and in the last few years a large number of genetic variants have been identified in our DNA that determines one's height.

"The beauty about DNA is that it cannot be modified by one's lifestyle or socio-economic conditions. Therefore if shorter height is directly connected with increased risk of coronary heart disease one would expect that these variants would also be associated with coronary heart disease and this is precisely what we found," he said.

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