Your height may be linked to your risk of blood clots: A new study from Sweden found that taller men and women were more likely to develop blood clots in their veins than their shorter counterparts were.
Compared with men who were taller than 6 feet 2 inches (190 centimeters), men who were shorter than 5 feet 3 inches (160 cm) were 65 percent less likely to develop a blood clot in their veins, according to the study. And compared with women taller than 6 feet (185 cm), woman who were shorter than 5 feet 1 inch (155 cm) were 69 percent less likely to develop a venous blood clot.
Venous blood clots, or “venous thromboembolisms,” are blood clots that start in a person’s veins, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). One type of venous blood clot is called a deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and it often forms in the vein of a person’s leg. If a DVT breaks free from a person’s vein, it can travel to the individual’s lungs and get stuck, causing the second type of venous blood clot, a pulmonary embolism. These embolisms can be deadly.
Venous blood clots affect up to 600,000 Americans each year and are the third-leading type of blood vessel problem, after heart attack and stroke, the AHA says.
In the new study, published in Circulation, found that among same-sex sibling pairs, the risk of venous blood clots was significantly lower in siblings at least 2 inches (5 cm) shorter than their taller siblings.
The study didn’t look into why height was linked to risk of venous blood clots. It could just be that because taller individuals have longer leg veins, there is more surface area where problems can occur. Gravity may also play a role in the possible link. Lifestyle factors may work here too, such as smoking, diet and physical activity.
Although a person can’t do anything to change their height, we can take height into consideration when preventing venous blood clots.