Taller men suffer more venous thromboembolisms

By Tom Nordlie • Published: August 30th, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Being tall has its advantages.

Greater stature suggests dominance and leadership, especially if you’re male.

But there’s a downside, too.

For men, greater height is believed to increase the chances of suffering venous thromboembolism [VEE-nuss thromm-bow-EMM-bowl-izm], also known as V-T-E.

That’s when a blood clot forms, breaks loose and lodges in a vein, blocking blood flow.

V-T-E is the third most common form of cardiovascular disease, striking up to three out of every one-thousand adults in developed countries.

This condition is serious, and can be fatal.

A study published recently in the American Journal of Epidemiology shows that V-T-E is more common in tall men than short men.

Strangely enough, height isn’t a risk factor for women.

The study involved almost twenty-seven-thousand Norwegian adults, none of whom had a previous history of V-T-E.

About half of the participants were men. When the study began, their average age was forty-seven.

The participants received physical examinations, gave blood samples and answered questionnaires.

Follow-up on the study lasted an average of twelve-and-a-half years.

During that time, researchers searched hospital records to determine if any participants suffered V-T-E.

Altogether, there were about four-hundred-sixty incidents of V-T-E during follow-up.

Analysis showed that the tallest men — those who were five-foot-eleven-inches and above — had double the risk of V-T-E compared with the shortest group, who were five-foot-eight or less.

The researchers weren’t sure why this phenomenon occurred.

One possibility is that the risk of V-T-E is related to obvious physical factors.

Previous studies show that women have narrower blood vessels and that greater height is associated with greater blood pressure.

Maybe that helps explain the results found in this study.

Regardless, if you’re a tall man, there’s a lesson here.

See your doctor and find out if your superior stature might put you in the danger zone for V-T-E.

If that’s the case, you need to find a way to rise above it.