Thursday, 9 April 2015

Genes May Leave Short People Prone to Heart Disease


Researchers suggest a link between stature and cardiovascular risk

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Dennis Thompson

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, April 8, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Short people may be more likely to have heart disease, and that increased risk could be linked to the genetics that also determine height, a British-led research team suggests.

A person's risk of heart disease increases about 13.5 percent for every 2.5 inches of difference in height, the scientists said. That means a 5-foot-tall person has an average 32 percent higher risk of heart disease than a person who's 5-foot 6-inches tall, according to the researchers.

An in-depth genetic analysis of more than 18,000 people revealed a number of genes linked to human growth and development that likely play a role in the increased risk for heart disease.

"We found that people who carry those genetic variants that lower your height and make you shorter are more likely to develop coronary heart disease," said Dr. Nilesh Samani, a professor of cardiology and head of the department of cardiovascular sciences at the University of Leicester in England.

However, while the current study was able to show an association between genetics, height and a higher risk of heart disease, it wasn't able to prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

The study is published online April 8 in the The New England Journal of Medicine.

Heart disease occurs when the arteries that supply blood to the muscles of the heart become narrowed, as a result of fatty plaques that build up along the artery walls. If a blood clot forms within a plaque-narrowed section of artery, it can block blood flow to the heart muscle and cause a heart attack.

But researchers found that only a third of the increased genetic risk they observed comes from genes related to levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol and triglycerides in the body.

That means most of the heart disease risk related to shortness of stature is tied to other genetic factors that are as yet poorly understood, said Dr. Ronald Krauss, director of atherosclerosis research at Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute in California.

"The genetic data is sufficiently strong to argue there's something else going on," Krauss said. "What that might be is still conjectural."

source : Genes May Leave Short People Prone to Heart Disease

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