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We are going to explore how height in men can influence the development of coronary artery disease.

There are many ways in which a physician can diagnose coronary artery disease based on a person’s medical and family history, risk factors, physical examination and the results of the following tests and/or procedures:

  • EKG: An EKG or electrocardiogram is a painless test that detects and records the electrical activity of a person’s heart. The test will show how fast the heart beats and if it has a regular or irregular rhythm. An EKG may show heart damage due to coronary artery disease, as well as any damage from a past or current heart attack.
  • Blood Testing: A doctor may order blood tests to check a man’s fats, cholesterol, and protein and sugar levels in the blood. Any abnormal levels could mean a person is at an increased risk for coronary artery disease.
  • Chest X-ray: A chest x-ray could reveal signs of heart failure, as well as other signs related to coronary artery disease.
  • Stress Testing: A stress test is done by having a person exercise to make the heart beat faster and work harder. If an individual can’t exercise, he or she may be given medications to increase the heart rate. The goal of a stress test is to detect abnormal changes in heart rate or blood pressure, shortness of breath and to see if there are changes in a person’s heart rhythm or electrical activity.

The Results Of The Study

So what did the recent research study, led by Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, of the British Heart Foundation Professor for Cardiology at Leicester University, say about height and heart health? The results were published online in the New England Journal of Medicine and the study was supported by the British Heart Foundation, The National Institute for Health Research and other organizations.

Dr Christopher Nelson, a British Heart Foundation-funded lecturer who analyzed the information, stated: "We had genetic data through the CARDIoGRAM-C4D consortium on 200,000 persons with or without coronary artery disease. We examined whether 180 genetic variants that affect height also associated with coronary artery disease. In aggregate, we found that for every change in height of 6.5 cm (approx. 2.5 inches) caused by these variants the risk of coronary artery disease changed by an average of 13.5 percent.”

Dr Nelson also added: “We also examined whether the association we found between shorter height and higher risk of coronary artery disease could be explained by an effect on height and risk factors for coronary artery disease like cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc. We only observed an association with cholesterol and fat levels which could explain a small proportion (less than a third) of the relationship between shorter height and coronary artery disease. The rest is probably explained by shared biological processes that determine achieved height and the development of coronary artery disease at the same time.”

While the findings of the study are quite interesting, it does not prove any immediate clinical implications between height and coronary artery disease risks. More ongoing research is needed in order to understand the relationship between height, heart disease and the reported risk factors.

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