Adult height, stroke, and coronary heart disease

Am J Epidemiol. 1998 Dec 1;148(11):1069-76. doi: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.aje.a009584.


An inverse relation between adult height and risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) has been reported in many studies, but the association between adult height and stroke remains uncertain. The authors examined the relation between adult height and risk of stroke and CHD in a prospective study of 7,735 men drawn from general medical practices in 24 towns in England, Wales, and Scotland. The men were followed up for an average of 16.8 years (range, 15.5-18.0 years) between 1978 and 1995. During this period, there were 351 major stroke events (63 fatal, 288 nonfatal) and 1,093 major CHD events (465 fatal, 628 nonfatal). The mean height of the men was 173.3 cm. Total stroke risk was increased only in the men who fell into the lowest quintile of the height distribution (<167.7 cm), with little difference being seen between the other groups. When data were examined separately for fatal and nonfatal events, no relation was seen with nonfatal stroke. An apparent inverse association was seen with fatal stroke, even after adjustment for a wide range of confounding variables, but the number of deaths was small and the trend was not statistically significant (p = 0.17). By contrast, a significant inverse relation was seen between height and risk of major CHD events: Risk decreased progressively with increasing height, even after full adjustment (highest quintile vs. lowest: relative risk (RR) = 0.74, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.59-0.91; test for trend: p < 0.001). A stronger inverse association was seen with nonfatal CHD events (RR = 0.64, 95% CI 0.49-0.84) than with fatal CHD events (RR = 0.82, 95% CI 0.60-1.11). This study confirms the finding of an inverse association between height and CHD. The inverse association seen for fatal stroke but not nonfatal stroke suggests that height may be related to specific subtypes of stroke. There are different patterns of association between height and stroke and height and CHD. If the apparent association between short stature and increased risk of fatal stroke is confirmed in other prospective studies, this would suggest that different mechanisms underlie the effects of height on stroke and CHD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Height*
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / etiology
  • Coronary Disease / epidemiology*
  • Coronary Disease / etiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology