Did you hear the latest? Apparently height could impact your health!
Perhaps you saw the news report last week about a new study linking height to heart disease. The study, which was reported in The New England Journal of Medicine, looked at over 200,000 people and found that shorter men have an increased risk for heart disease. Interestingly, the shorter they were, the greater this likelihood was.
The study examined 180 genetic variants among short and tall people and found a trait related to LDL cholesterol and triglycerides that may play a role in affecting the development of coronary artery disease (CAD). But, I have to say, this role was minimal at most.
Although researchers did find a link between height and heart disease, there’s no reason to be alarmed if you’re the shortest guy in your circle of friends. The risk is very small. It’s nothing like the risk incurred by smoking or having high cholesterol, and really isn’t much to worry about—especially if you lead a healthy lifestyle.
There are some very important things to consider in this study. First off, all participants were Caucasians of European descent. This is a relatively specific group in terms of genetics. The study also indicated that people 2.5 inches below average height had a 13.5% higher risk of heart disease. It’s also important to note that average height varies depending on your location in the world. For example, the average height of a man in Denmark is 6’, while it’s about 5’9” in the U.S.
Because genetics were not found to play a significant role in this study, it’s my estimation that the risk is largely environmental. Depression, for example, can have a stronger effect on people below average height. These factors play a role along with lifestyle choices like exercise and diet, which greatly impact heart health.
Regardless of your height or gender, the best ways to take care of your heart are to follow a healthy diet and ensure you’re getting regular exercise. Your body, no matter how short or tall, will respond to what you do to it, good or bad. Our Doctors Health Press e-Bulletin aims to help you focus on the good, so stay tuned!
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Sources for Today’s Article:
Dittmann, M., “Standing Tall Pays Off, Study Finds,” American Psychological Association web site, July 2004; http://www.apa.org/monitor/julaug04/standing.aspx, last accessed April 14, 2015.
Krupnick, V., “Size Matters: Stature is Related to Diagnoses of Depression in Young Military Men,” Sage web site, July 23, 2014; http://sgo.sagepub.com/content/4/3/2158244014542783, last accessed April 14, 2015.
Nelson, C., et al., “Genetically Determined Height and Coronary Artery Disease,” New England Journal of Medicine web site, April 8, 2015; http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1404881%20, last accessed April 14, 2015.
Harris, R., “Link Between Heart Disease and Height Hidden In Our Genes,” NPR web site, April 8, 2015; http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2015/04/08/397895789/link-between-heart-disease-and-height-hidden-in-our-genes, last accessed April 14, 2015.
“Average Male Height by Country,” Average Height web site, 2015; http://www.averageheight.co/average-male-height-by-country, last accessed April 14, 2015.