short-people-more-prone-to-heart-diseaseThere are factors in life that you may never think would impact your health. Foot or hand size for example doesnt seem to show a correlation with increased risk of illness.

But other factors which you may have overlooked up until now surprisingly do play a role in your risk of developing disease. In particular, your height. Dont take it personally, but the shorter you are, the greater your risk of coronary heart disease, or cardiovascular disease (CVD), and subsequent heart attacks.

New research reveals that every 2.5 inch-change in your height can increase your risk of coronary heart disease and heart attack by nearly 14 percent. The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, was conducted by the University of Leicester and supported by the British Heart Foundation, the National Institute for Health Research and others.

For instance, compared to someone who is 5 foot, 6 inches tall, a 5-foot-tall person has a 30 percent higher risk of coronary heart disease and heart attack on average.

Heart disease and heart attacks by the numbers

heart-disease-and-heart-attacks-by-the-numbersThe most common cause of premature death around the word, coronary heart disease and heart attacks are the single biggest killer in countries like the United States. and the U.K. About one in six men, and roughly one in ten women, die from coronary heart disease and heart attacks.

Its directly responsible for an estimated 73,000 deaths in the U.K. each year and an average of 200 people each day. Thats one person every seven minutes. Meanwhile, 2.3 million people continue to live with coronary heart disease. Thats well over 1.4 million men and 850,000 women.

Basically, coronary heart disease and heart attacks are conditions in which the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle what are called coronary arteries become narrowed because of a deposition of fatty material or plaque in the walls of the arteries. Now if a blood clot is created over the plaque, then the artery can get blocked all of a sudden, increasing the likelihood of heart disease and heart attack.

History of height, heart disease and heart attacks

For more than a half a century, scientists have known that theres an inverse relationship between height and the risk of coronary heart disease and heart attack. But it hasnt been clear whether this relationship is due to factors like nutrition and poor socioeconomic environment, especially during childhood, adolescence and even young adulthood.

Study authors say your bodys DNA, which determines your height, cant be modified by lifestyle or socioeconomic conditions. So shorter height itself, as the study determined, is directly connected with increased risk of coronary heart disease.

Biological processes that determine height and coronary heart disease development could be part of the explanation. People of smaller height have proportionally smaller coronary arteries, so a similar level of plaque could result in higher risk of the disease.

Preventing and treating heart disease and heart attacks

preventing-and-treating-heart-disease-and-heart-attacksThe recent research better highlights the complexity of coronary heart disease. Of course, the research doesnt have any immediate clinical implications. Still, the better the understanding of the relationship between shorter height and the higher risk of coronary heart disease and heart attacks, the more likely researchers will find new ways of preventing and treating them in the future.

In the meantime, researchers suggest that heart disease be treated early, regularly and more aggressively, especially in women. For starters, try leading a much healthier lifestyle. This includes eating a healthy diet, staying physically active, maintaining a healthy weight, refraining from smoking and even limiting your alcohol consumption.

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