Greater Height Is Associated with a Larger Carotid Lumen Diameter

Medicines (Basel). 2019 May 14;6(2):57. doi: 10.3390/medicines6020057.


Background: Previous studies link tall stature with a reduced ischemic stroke risk. One theory posits that tall people have larger cerebral artery lumens and therefore have a lower plaque occlusion risk than those who are short. Previous studies have not critically evaluated the associations between height and cerebral artery structure independent of confounding factors. Methods: The hypothesis linking stature with cerebral artery lumen size was tested in 231 adults by measuring the associations between height and common carotid artery diameter (CCAD) and intima-media thickness (IMT) after controlling for recognized vascular influencing factors (e.g., adiposity, blood pressure, plasma lipids, etc.). Results: Height remained a significant CCAD predictor across all developed multiple regression models. These models predict a ~0.03 mm increase in CCAD for each 1-cm increase in height in this sample. This magnitude of CCAD increase with height represents over a 60% enlargement of the artery's lumen area across adults varying in stature from short (150 cm) to tall (200 cm). By contrast, IMT was non-significantly correlated with height across all developed regression models. Conclusions: People who are tall have a larger absolute CCAD than people who are short, while IMT is independent of stature. These observations potentially add to the growing cardiovascular literature aimed at explaining the lower risk of ischemic strokes in tall people.

Keywords: cerebrovascular disease; clinical; ultrasound.