Myocardial Infarction
Height loss may increase heart attack risk
Dec 14, 2006 - 4:59:49 PM

London, Dec 14 - Men who lose height by three cm or more as they age could face the risk of heart attack, says a British study that suggests they should stay as active as possible into old age.

Goya Wannamethee, reader in epidemiology at the Royal Free and University College Medical School in London, and other researchers studied 4,200 men.

They found that those who lost three cm in height were 64 percent more likely to die than those who lost less than one cm, although the researchers say they don't know why height loss seems to be linked with an increased risk of coronary heart disease.

The study was part of the British Regional Heart Study, which enrolled men between 1978 and 1980 and then followed them up 20 years later when they were in their 60s and 70s.

It's been well established that shortness is associated with cardiovascular disease so we were interested to see whether height loss itself could influence mortality, the researchers said.

Over the 20-year period the men lost an average of 1.67 cm of height. But 1,400 of the men lost more than two cm.

Many of the additional deaths in men who had lost height were due to cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease or other non-cancer diseases.

Height loss was associated with a 42 percent increased risk of coronary events such as heart attacks, even in men who had no history of cardiovascular disease, thy said.

'It gives us an interesting starting point that could be explored with further research, helping us to identify those at greatest risk,' said June Davison, cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation.

The study is published in the bi-monthly professional medical journal 'Archives of Internal Medicine'.

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