Association between height and coronary heart disease mortality: a prospective study of 35,000 twin pairs

Am J Epidemiol. 2006 Apr 1;163(7):615-21. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwj081. Epub 2006 Feb 16.


An inverse association between height and risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) is well demonstrated, but it is not known whether this association is because of genetic factors, socioeconomic background, or other environmental factors. Four population-based twin cohorts with register-based follow-up data on CHD mortality from Denmark (1966-1996), Finland (1975-2001), and Sweden (1963-2001 and 1972-2001) were used to investigate this question; response rates varied between 65% and 86%. Together, the cohorts included 74,704 twin individuals (35,042 complete twin pairs) with 5,943 CHD deaths during 1.99 million person-years of follow-up. Cox and conditional logistic regression models were used. Per 1-standard deviation decrease in height, height was inversely associated with CHD mortality in men (hazard ratio = 1.08, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.04, 1.12) and in women (hazard ratio = 1.06, 95% CI: 1.01, 1.10). A twin who had died from CHD was on average shorter than the co-twin within monozygotic pairs (odds ratio = 1.27, 95% CI: 1.12, 1.44, with no sex difference), whereas a weaker association was found within dizygotic pairs in men (odds ratio = 1.01, 95% CI: 0.91, 1.13) and in women (odds ratio = 1.14, 95% CI: 1.01, 1.28). The inverse association between height and CHD mortality found within monozygotic discordant twin pairs suggests that this association is because of environmental factors that directly affect height and CHD risk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Twin Study

MeSH terms

  • Body Height*
  • Coronary Disease / mortality*
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prospective Studies
  • Registries
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden / epidemiology