Can Your Height Affect Your Risk For Certain Medical Conditions?

In addition to determining if you have to bend over to walk through door frames or if you're tall enough to go on an amusement park ride, your height may affect other aspects of your life. A recent study published on June 2 in PLOS Genetics found that a person's height may be a predictor of future health outcomes. While the study concluded that more research needs to be conducted to confirm the findings that height is a primary indicator of certain medical conditions instead of a secondary factor, the researchers did find trends when it comes to height.

The study screened participants of varying heights for over 1,000 different medical conditions (via Healthline). For people who are tall, the study found that their height may be linked to a higher risk of irregular heartbeat or atrial fibrillation, as well as varicose veins. People who are taller may also be more prone to foot ulcers as well as peripheral neuropathy, the medical term for a tingling sensation felt in hands and feet as a result of nerve damage. On the positive side of things, being tall has been linked to lower rates of coronary heart disease and lower risks of high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Although people who are short may be at increased risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol, they may still live longer than their taller counterparts.

Lifestyle and weight matter

While your height may predict greater odds of certain outcomes, your lifestyle and weight are key factors when it comes to your overall health, says Healthline. If you're at increased risk of a medical condition from a non-modifiable factor like your height, there are modifications you can make in your lifestyle that can mediate your risks of developing various medical conditions. For example, maintaining a healthy weight through nutrition and exercise can be a way to prime your body for positive outcomes.

According to WebMD, ways to decrease your risk of high cholesterol include incorporating soluble fiber into your diet, eliminating artificial trans fats, and keeping your stress levels as low as possible. Moreover, since blood pressure tends to increase as a person gains excess weight, it's important to remain active and mindful of weight gain, advises Mayo Clinic. Not smoking, drinking alcohol responsibly, and reducing sodium in your diet are all steps you can take to decrease your risk of developing high blood pressure.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that heart disease is the leading cause of death with one American dying from the condition every 36 seconds. While taller people may be less likely to develop heart disease, adults of all heights are at risk of the deadly condition, especially if they're overweight, sedentary, consume too much alcohol, or eat an unhealthy diet. So while you can't control your height, you can implement positive lifestyle habits to improve your health.