Short people have a higher risk of heart health problems than tall people, according to a new study.
”The shorter you are, the higher risk you have of developing cardiovascular disease,” says Tuula Paajanen, MD, a researcher at the University of Tampere, Finland.
Short people, she found, also had an increased risk of heart attacks and earlier death than taller people. Overall, she says, the risk of getting heart disease and dying from it early is 1.5 times higher for short people than for tall people.
The report, in which Paajanen analyzes 52 previously published studies, is published in the European Heart Journal.
For nearly 60 years, researchers have debated a potential link between height and heart disease, with the first report finding short people at a health disadvantage published in 1951.
So Paajanen and her team did medical literature searches, selecting the most scientifically sound studies — totaling 52 — from the 1,907 articles she found on the topic. In all, more than 3 million people were included in the 52 studies they reviewed.
What’s Short? What’s Tall?
Short and tall are relative, of course, so for the review Paajanen compared the tallest groups with the shortest groups, defining each.
- Short men were defined as those less than about 5 feet 5 inches tall, while short women were those below about 5 feet.
- Tall men were those over about 5 feet 9 and 1/2 inches, and tall women over about 5 feet 5 and 1/2 inches.
After analyzing all 52 studies, Paajanen found an increased risk for health problems and earlier death for the shortest group compared to the tallest.
- Short stature increased the risk of heart disease illness and death by 1.5 times.
- Short men had a 37% increased risk for dying from any cause, and short women a 55% increased risk.
Both short men and short women had a 52% increased risk of having a heart attack.
This one is strange. You would think smaller people would have a lower chance of heart related illness because the heart doesn’t have to pump as hard. Indeed, the Air Force has known though studies for years that the best Fighter Pilots are typically short women. This is due to the stress put on the body’s blood flow due to G forces, where a short person’s blood doesn’t have as far to travel, and thus shorter pilots are more resistant to or recover faster in blackouts caused by the blood being pushed to the extremities by extreme G forces.
Guys – Please don’t revoke my “Black Card” for the Randy Newman song!