Every woman wants long legs, but new research suggests there may be a hidden health risk for taller women. According to the study presented today at EuroPrevent 2017, women over 5 feet 6 inches are about three times more likely to have a stroke than shorter women because their larger heart can cause irregular and abnormal heart rhythms. Weighing over 180 pounds can also add to this risk, so doctors recommend that taller women in particular look after their weight to minimize risk.
The study analyzed different factors that put women at risk for atrial fibrillation, or an irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, strokes, and heart failure, and found that a woman’s size was the biggest factor. While body weight is commonly associated as a factor for atrial fibrillation, the study found that simply being “big,” as in tall but not overweight, can put you at a similar risk. This is because the bigger the person, the bigger their heart atrium, and subsequently, the bigger their risk for atrial fibrillation.
“We found that bigger women have a greater risk of atrial fibrillation,” said study author Annika Rosengren, in a recent statement by the European Society of Cardiology. “There was a stepwise elevation in risk with increasing body size. The group with the highest body surface area had nearly three times the risk as those with the lowest body surface area.”
For the study, the team looked at data from 1.5 million women over the course of 30 years, taking into account everything from weight, height and age at first pregnancy, to whether or not they smoked or have diabetes. Results found that women who were over 5 feet 6 inches and weighed more than 180 pounds were at higher risk for developing this health condition, Medical Xpress reported.
This study adds to the idea that having more body mass increases your risk for certain diseases. For example, past research has also found that taller people are also at greater risk for developing cancer. For example, one study found that with each 10 cm of total height, cancer risk increased by 18 percent in women and 11 percent in men. However, the reason why tall people are at greater risk for cancer is not as clear as the link between height and atrial fibrillation risk. For example, it may be that taller individuals are exposed to higher levels of growth factors that could possibly promote cancer, or it may be due to their higher caloric intake. What’s more, it may simply be that taller people have more cells than smaller people, and therefore more potential to develop cancerous mutations.