Is being short good for your health?

Is being short good for your health?

Many shorter individuals can point to a slew of disadvantages associated with their height.

But a recent study suggests being short might offer one key health benefit.

According to researchers, shorter people are at a lower risk for developing blood clots than taller individuals.

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot located in a deep vein – typically in the legs. Dr. Michael Brottman, a cardiologist with the Advocate Heart Institute, says DVT can be deadly.

“Blood clots have the capability of traveling to the lungs and leading to pulmonary embolism, which can cause even bigger problems,” he says. Pulmonary embolism is when a clot blocks an artery in the lung.

In the study, researchers analyzed health data from more than 2.6 million people, all Swedish sibling pairs. They found that men under 63 inches were 65 percent less likely to develop a blood clot compared to men 74 inches or taller.

Women under 61 inches who were pregnant for the first time were 69 percent less likely to develop a clot compared to those 72 inches or taller. Study authors theorize the decrease in risk among the shorter individuals is related to the fact that “taller individuals have longer leg veins…there is more surface area where problems can occur.”

But the researchers did conclude the study had limitations, including the fact that they weren’t able to consider some lifestyle factors of the participants’ early life.

Dr. Brottman says that “While the study is interesting, there are more important things to consider when it comes to DVT. This doesn’t mean short people shouldn’t be mindful of blood clots. Everyone should be aware of the causes, which include:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Aging
  • Injury
  • Surgery
  • Prolonged bedrest
  • Pregnancy
  • Birth control pills
  • Smoking
  • Hormone replacement
  • Cancer
  • Heart failure
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Sitting for long periods of time (“If you tend to take long flights or drive for long periods of time, make sure you stand up. If you can, walk around.”)”

He encourages everyone to be aware of the signs of DVT, such as swelling in the extremities, particularly in the leg.

Luckily, Dr. Brottman points out that modern medicine has allowed for advanced DVT treatment. “There’s a lot of great technology out there, between clot-dissolving medications and the ability to ‘suck out’ clots.”

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  1. This sounds like a study that isn’t. We can’t do anything about height or age. Does the study take into account shrinking with age? If I shrink from my six foot height will my risk go down? I know, what I said sounds silly, but so does “a woman who is less than 61 inches and pregnant with her first child is less likely….”. Plus the study was done with just Swedish siblings??? How can this be an interesting or credible study?

  2. Liver Pool Natural Health January 11, 2018 at 3:55 am · Reply

    Asian women are much shorter than people living in western countries as I observed. This is only based on my personal opinion. The study show is only a guide. Good to know. Need to learn more about Deep vein thrombosis (DVT). It’s really sounds deadly.

    chiropractor liverpool

  3. thomas samaras April 17, 2018 at 7:47 pm · Reply

    Yes, our society has taught us that tall is a desirable trait. However, the large number of advantages to being shorter and smaller makes shorter height a strong point for humans. Of course, this assumes that we are comparing tall and short people of similar body proportions. For example,

    1. Shorter people live longer based on a wide variety of studies that looked at elderly Hawaiian Japanese males, basketball players, baseball players, retired West Point graduates, deceased Ohio residents, Spanish males, Swedish males, and Sardinian males. A Polish study based on 800,000 deceased males and females found that being shorter was a longevity advantage. Although most Western population studies have found taller people have less heart disease, I found that the only populations that were completely free of coronary heart disease and stroke were short populations, such as 20th C Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. The findings on cancer and greater height are very solid based on the World Cancer Research Fund and other researchers. See for more information.

    2. Shorter people are stronger pound for pound, have faster reaction times. greater endurance, greater agility, and less likely to break bones.They also have fewer knee, hip and spinal problems.

    3. Shorter, smaller people consume less food, water, energy and resources. They are a desirable model for the future if we are to survive in a future world of diminishing resources.

    4. Short people during our history have produced outstanding accomplishments in science, literature, art, business, and social progress.

About the Author

Holly Brenza
Holly Brenza

Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is a public affairs manager at Advocate Health Care in Downers Grove. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks and playing with her dog, Bear and cats, Demi and Elle.