Tall people could be at risk of potentially deadly blood clot, according to research | Health | Life & Style - World Big News

Tall people could be at risk of potentially deadly blood clot, according to research | Health | Life & Style

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Tall personGETTY – STOCK IMAGE

Tall men and women are more likely to suffer a potentially deadly blood clot

A wide-ranging study of more than two million siblings found a direct link between height and venous thromboembolism – a serious condition where a clot forms in a vein.

And the risk became greater the taller a person was, researchers discovered.

Men 6ft 2in or taller were 65 per cent more at risk than those shorter than 5ft 3in.

Pregnancy could also affect the risk, with women who were carrying a child for the first time and who were at least 6ft tall, some 69 per cent more at risk than those women shorter than 5ft 1in.


Height is not something we can do anything about

Professor Bengt Zoller – Lead researcher


 Pregnancy makes women’s blood more likely to clot to protect against heavy bleeding when they give birth.

Lead researcher Professor Bengt Zoller, from Lund University in Sweden, said: “Height is not something we can do anything about.

“However, the height in the population has increased, and continues increasing, which could be contributing to the fact that the incidence of thrombosis has increased.”

Each year about 25,000 people in the UK die from venous thromboembolism and about one in 500 Britons will get it.

Blood clotGETTY – STOCK IMAGE

Each year about 25,000 people in the UK die from venous thromboembolism

It begins in a vein and includes two types of blood clots – deep vein thrombosis (DVT) which forms in the leg, and pulmonary embolism (PE) which happens when the clot breaks free and travels to the lung. Both can be fatal but can be treated with injectable drugs that dissolve the clots or blood thinning medications that combat them.

Removal by surgery is another option.The new study, published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics, involved participants from Sweden where the population is now as ethnically diverse as the US, said Prof Zoller.

He said the shorter they were the less the likelihood of them developing the blood clot. Prof Zoller said gravity could be behind the association between height and venous thromboembolism risk.

He explained: “It could just be that because taller individuals have longer leg veins there is more surface area where problems can occur.

“There is also more gravitational pressure in leg veins of taller persons that can increase the risk of blood flow slowing or temporarily stopping.”

Another theory is that blood must be pumped a longer distance in tall people which may cause reduced flow in the legs and thereby raise the risk of clotting.

A further alternative possible reason for the connection is that taller people tend to weigh more – and increased weight, particularly in those who are obese, puts extra pressure on the legs and calves, and so reduces blood flow.

Prof Zoller said: “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.”

Being short has also been found to carry a reduced risk of cancer – possibly because they have a larger number of cells in their body which could potentially lead to a tumour.

Woman standing on toesGETTY – STOCK IMAGE

Being short has been found to carry a reduced risk of cancer

The vertically challenged are also more likely to live longer because the hormone that controls height – called the Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF) – also controls ageing.

A low level of IGF means a longer life expectancy.

Previous research has suggested the risk of venous thromboembolism among men 6ft or over is more than two-and-a-half-times greater.

Each year thousands of Britons develop the serious, potentially fatal, blood clots.

The most common triggers are surgery, cancer, immobilisation and hospitalisation. In women pregnancy and use of hormones like the Pill or oestrogen for menopause symptoms are also major causes.

The condition is so serious that venous thromboembolism is now the third leading cause of heart attack and stroke.