Research suggests taller people suffer more from a
type of irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation) as
well as Marfan syndrome (a connective tissue and
collagen disorder), which can come with heart valve
problems and abnormalities of the aorta.
A study from 2015 found that shorter people suffer
coronary artery disease more often.
A study in the American Heart Association’s journal
Stroke in February found that short children face
increased risk for strokes as adults.
Growth during this period of childhood is not
significantly associated with either of these stroke
subtypes, suggesting that underlying mechanisms
linking height with risks of stroke may exert their
influence already by early childhood, wrote the
stroke study authors.
The research looked at data on more than 300,000
Danish schoolchildren born over nearly six decades.
Researchers noted that boys and girls who were 2 to
3 inches shorter than average when they were between
ages 7 and 13 were at increased risk during their
adult years of clot-related, or ischemic, stroke in
both sexes and of bleeding, or hemorrhagic, stroke
What is considered “short” or “tall” varies by study
with consideration to the population and gender
There also is usually a midpoint height used based
on the research.
In the stroke study, the average height at age 7 was
about 4 feet for both boys and girls.
Many studies rely on patient memories and the many
environmental factors influencing human growth at
all stages of development makes it difficult for
researchers to pinpoint what is exactly increasing
Is it height or is it an environmental factor, such
as nutrition, that made the difference?
In 2010, a meta-analysis of 52 studies involving
more than 3 million men and women found that shorter
people had a higher risk of having deadly heart
disease than tall people.
But even though the data crunching had that result,
the studies were observational and therefore don’t
prove cause and effect.
Because the result was more dire for those of short
stature, one expert warned people on the shorter
side to “take coronary risk factor control more
Dr. Jaakko Tuomilehto of the Department of Public
Health at the University of Helsinki in Finland and
author of the editorial “Tall is beautiful and
heart-healthy?” published in 2010 in European Heart
Journal wrote “On the other hand, tall people are
not protected against coronary heart disease, and
they also need to pay attention to the same risk
factors as shorter people”, suggesting everyone
model healthy behaviors.
For more information
Medical Management of Marfan Syndrome
The New England Journal of Medicine
Genetically Determined Height and Coronary Artery
Childhood Stature and Growth in Relation to First
Ischemic Stroke or Intracerebral Hemorrhage
European Heart Journal
Short stature is associated with coronary heart
disease: a systematic review of the literature and a
European Heart Journal
Tall is beautiful and heart-healthy?
American Heart Association