A new study states that short people are at a greater risk of heart attack, and there’s little they can do about it because the link is genetic.
The study, which was conducted by the University of Leicester and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, states that someone who is 5ft tall faces a 32% greater risk of heart disease than someone who is 5ft 6in.
Sir Nilesh Samani, professor at the University of Leicester, and the lead author of the study, 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.”
For their study, the researchers analyzed the genetic data from more than 65,000 people with heart disease and more than 128,000 without any heart disease. The researchers also looked for genes that are associated with known risk factors for heart disease.
They found that shorter people were also more likely to have a genetic propensity for higher cholesterol and fat levels, but not for high blood pressure, diabetes or other predisposing factors. They added that the link with higher cholesterol and fat levels could explain a small proportion [less than a third] of the relationship between shorter height and coronary heart disease. They concluded that a person who is just 5ft tall has on average a 32% higher risk of coronary heart disease compared with someone who is 5ft 6in tall.
The researchers also added that the relationship between shorter height and coronary heart disease was stronger for men than for women.
“The causes of coronary heart disease are quite complex. The findings are relative, so a tall person who smokes will very likely be at much higher risk of heart disease than somebody who is smaller. There is no reason for shorter people to be screened for heart disease or treated any differently as a result of it,” added Samani.