Shorter people may be at higher risk for coronary heart disease (CHD), according to a study published online Dec. 12 in Circulation – Cardiovascular Imaging. Researchers found an inverse relationship between height and levels of coronary artery calcium (CAC), a marker for CHD.
Investigators led by Michael Miedema, MD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, used data from National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Family Heart Study participants to assess the relationship between height and CAC. The Family Heart Study was designed to evaluate predictors of cardiovascular risk factors, subclinical atherosclerosis and CHD. The participants all underwent computed tomography.
Miedema and colleagues separated the 2,703 participants into height quartiles. They found that compared with the shortest individuals in the first quartile, those in the fourth quartile had a 30 percent lower chance of CAC. Increasing height was associated with a lower risk of CAC. An analysis based on sex also found an inverse relationship between height and CAC.
“There are several potential mechanisms that could lead to an inverse association between adult height and CHD,” the authors wrote. “Height is largely determined by genetic predisposition and environmental factors such as nutrition, social networks and physical environment.”
Because of its influence on these environmental factors, childhood socioeconomic status also strongly predicts CHD, the authors noted.