While being tall is an advantage in basketball, or when trying to reach the high shelf in the kitchen, it could also be a predictor for certain medical ailments, including blood clots, according to a new study published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics.
Blood clots were at the lowest risk level among the shortest women and men studied and appeared to increase with height, CNN reported. The study involved data on more than four million Swedes.
The risk for blood clots decreased 69 percent for women shorter than 5 feet 1 inch, compared with women who were approximately 6 feet or taller. For men, the risk dropped 65 percent if they were less than 5 feet 3 inches, compared with those 6 feet 2 inches and taller, the researchers found.
Lead study author Bengt Zöller, associate professor at Lund University and Malmö University Hospital in Sweden, said in a news release that height in the population has increased, which could contribute to the increase in blood clots. "I think we should start to include height in risk assessment just as overweight, although formal studies are needed to determine exactly how height interacts with inherited blood disorders and other conditions."
In the United States, blood clots are thought to kill about 60,000 to 100,000 people annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For men, the study found that being tall was linked to blood clots in the lungs, legs and other locations. For women, it only increased the risk of blood clots in the legs.
"The bottom line regarding this recent study, whether you are a taller or shorter individual, you must be aware of all the additional lifestyle factors that may increase your risk for blood clots, such as smoking or a sedentary lifestyle," Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe, an attending physician of internal medicine at NYU Langone Health, told CNN. "We have no control over our height, but we certainly can all take the appropriate measures in making healthy lifestyle choices to reduce the risk of various conditions."