Tall people's DNA linked to a decrease in heart risk

The shorter you are, the greater your risk of heart problems, a team at the University of Leicester says.  The study, of nearly 200,000 people, found sections of DNA that control both height and heart health.  

Shorter people may have an increased risk of heart disease, according to a new study that says not just lifestyle but the genes determining our size play a part.

The study breaks new ground by finding the first genetic links between the genes for shorter height and those that increase the risk of coronary heart disease.  For example, someone who is 5ft tall will be 32% more at risk of heart disease than someone who is 5ft 6in.

The research looked at genetic data from more than 65,000 people with heart disease and more than 128,000 without.

To try to establish the reasons for the link, the researchers also looked for genes that are associated with known risk factors for heart disease, and found that shorter people were also more likely to have a genetic propensity for higher cholesterol and fat levels – but not for high blood pressure, diabetes or other predisposing factors.

The idea that height plays a role in heart health was first proposed more than 50 years ago, but researchers did not know why.  Some thought the relationship was a consequence of other factors, such as poor childhood nutrition stunting height and also affecting the heart.

The study also showed those genes cutting height were also increasing the amount of cholesterol and fats in the bloodstream.