|Short people have a 50 percent higher risk of having a heart problem or dying from one than tall people, a new study says, though weight, blood pressure and smoking habits remain more important factors.
Previous studies have suggested a link between height and heart problems like angina, heart attacks and angioplasties. This is the first major review of such studies, including research from around the world, confirming the relationship.
Researchers in Finland looked at 52 previous papers with data on height and heart problems in more than 3 million men and women.
Experts did not consider patients' heights objectively, but within the context of a particular country's population. They found the shortest people in the population were one and a half times more likely to have heart problems or die from them than the tallest people.
We don't want to scare short people, but perhaps they should be extra cautious about their lifestyle," said Borge Nordestgaard, a professor of genetic epidemiology at the University of Copenhagen. He was not connected to the study.
Height's impact on heart disease was still less important than things like smoking, which increases the chance of a heart ailment by up to four times, he said.
Experts also suggested there could be a biological explanation, such as a hormone imbalance that hurts the heart. Scientists also suspect that because short people have smaller arteries, those could theoretically get clogged quicker with cholesterol and be more easily damaged by any changes in blood pressure.
But Joep Perk, a professor of health sciences at Linnaeus University in Sweden and a spokesman for the European Society of Cardiology, said it was too early to conclude short people had potentially problematic hearts.
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Despite appearing in a European Heart Journal, cautions Dr. Zalman, this study is questionable due to statistical and technical issues and he cautions that it is important to view the original article http://www.eurheartj.oxfordjournals.org