Tall people: Your hearts are at risk

A Penn Medicine study shows height could be a causal risk factor in developing atrial fibrillation.

Taller people have an increased risk of developing atrial fibrillation (AFib), an irregular and often rapid heartbeat that can lead to stroke, heart failure and other complications, according to a new Penn Medicine study. The research, which reveals a strong link between the genetic variants associated with height and one’s risk for AFib, is among the first to demonstrate that height may be a causal—not correlated—risk factor for AFib. The findings were presented at the American Heart Association’s 2019 Scientific Sessions in Philadelphia this month.

Two basketball players next to one another, one quite tall, the other quite short

Researchers found that the risk for AFib climbed as one’s height increased, with every one-inch increase in height translating to about a three percent increase in risk of Afib—independent of other clinical factors—as compared to those at average height (5 feet and 7 inches).

“Our findings suggest it may be beneficial to incorporate height into risk-prediction tools for AFib,” says the study’s lead author Michael Levin, a cardiovascular medicine fellow at Penn. “While current guidelines advise against widespread screening for AFib, our findings show that a certain group of patients—specifically, very tall patients—may benefit from screening.”

Read more at Penn Medicine News.