Background: Several studies have observed an inverse association between height and risk for coronary disease, but it is unclear whether other traditional coronary disease risk factors may have confounded this association. We examined the original Framingham Heart Study cohort to determine whether short stature is associated with all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease mortality, and myocardial infarction after adjusting for age and other traditional coronary heart disease risk factors.
Methods and results: A total of 2019 men and 2585 women were followed up to 35.6 years. Subjects were stratified by sex and divided into quartiles according to height. Risk ratios were calculated from proportional hazards analyses comparing the first, second, and third quartiles of height to the tallest quartile before and after adjusting for age, hypertension, smoking, serum cholesterol, diabetes, relative weight, and alcohol intake. In both sexes, there were significant differences in the unadjusted event rates between the shortest and the tallest quartile for all-cause mortality, cardiovascular mortality, and myocardial infarction. Once the analyses were age adjusted, differences among height quartiles persisted only for risk of myocardial infarction in women. Further adjustment for other clinical variables had little additional impact on the results.
Conclusions: After considering age and other coronary disease risk factors, short stature was not associated with increased risk for all-cause or cardiovascular mortality in either sex. It was associated with increased risk for myocardial infarction in women but not in men.