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 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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One Comment

  1. Being a shorty stature individual this is an interesting article. I have never thought being my height could have health benefits. After reading this article I will be more aware of my height weight ratio and other health issues.

About the Author

Holly Brenza
Holly Brenza

Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is the public affairs coordinator at Advocate Children's Hospital. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks, playing with her dog, Bear and running her cats' Instagram account, @strangefurthings.