Short People Face Great Heart Disease Risk: Report

Michael Santo's picture

According to Randy Newman's old song, "Short People," Short people got no reason To live. What may in fact be true, according to research, is that they have a greater chance of a heart attack.

The report, in which Tuula Paajanen, MD, a researcher at the University of Tampere, Finland, analyzes 52 previously published studies, is published in the European Heart Journal. According to the research, "The shorter you are, the higher risk you have of developing cardiovascular disease," according to Paajanen.

Overall, said Paajanen, the risk of getting heart disease and dying from it early is 1.5 times higher for short people than for tall people. That includes an increased risk of heart attacks and earlier death than for people of taller stature.

Relatively speaking, what is tall and what is short? The researchers defined the terms as follows: short men were those less than 5'5" tall, while short women were those below 5'. Tall men, on the other hand, were defined to be 5'9 and 1/2" or more, while tall women were over 5'5 and1/2".

The results were, of course, enlightening, but don't worry too much if you fall into the short categories: smoking, obesity, lack of exercise, and more contribute to a greater extent than stature. Still, the results are that

  • Shortness increased the risk of heart disease illness and death by 1.5 times.
  • Short men had a 37% increased risk of death (any cause)
  • Short women a 55% increased risk of death (any cause)
  • Both short men and short women had a 52% increased risk of having a heart attack.

Indeed, given these statistics, perhaps Randy Newman was correct, as it seems pretty depressing for those of short stature.

Typical of early studies, the reason for such a correlation is still not known. Paajanen speculated, however. "My favorite hypothesis is that shorter people would have narrower arteries, because this hypothesis hasn't been studied very much. In recent studies using angiographic measurements, the coronary artery diameter was correlated with height and body weight, so there might be a point to it,"

She also stated that short people need not panic. "Height is only one factor (among many) that may contribute to heart disease risk." Instead, she urged people to focus on other ways of bettering your health, such as exercising and not smoking. "Those are easier to change than your height," she added.

Written by Michael Santo

Add new comment