Long story short: The taller you are, the higher your risk for developing blood clots.
That’s the eye-opening finding of a new study in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics.
After studying more than two million Swedish siblings, researchers found that for men shorter than 5’3” the risk for blood clots that start in a vein — or venous thromboembolism — dropped 65% when compared to the men 6’2” or taller.
“Height is not something we can do anything about,” said Bengt Zöller, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor at Lund University and Malmö University Hospital in Malmö, Sweden.
“However,” he added, “the height in the population has increased, and continues increasing, which could be contributing to the fact that the incidence of thrombosis has increased.”
CDC estimates of venous thromboembolism show that they affect up to 600,000 Americans every year, making it the third leading cause of heart attack and stroke. The most common triggers are surgery, cancer, immobilization and hospitalization.
“It could just be that because taller individuals have longer leg veins there is more surface area where problems can occur,” Zöller said. “There is also more gravitational pressure in leg veins of taller persons that can increase the risk of blood flow slowing or temporarily stopping.”
While the exact association between height and clots in veins remains to be determined, it’s certainly a finding to be aware of, especially for supermodels, basketball players and Mayor de Blasio, who stands at 6-feet-5.
“I think we should start to include height in risk assessment just as overweight,” Zöller said. “Although formal studies are needed to determine exactly how height interacts with inherited blood disorders and other conditions.”