Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is strongly associated with height in men and women, according to data published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics.

Bengt Zoller, MD, PhD, from the Center for Primary Health Care Research at Lund University in Malmo, Sweden, and colleagues based their findings on sibling pair analysis, which reduces the influence of familial confounding. A total of 1,610,870 male participants born between 1951 and 1992 without VTE were followed from enlistment until 2012, and a cohort of women without VTE (n=1,093,342) were followed from first pregnancy until 2012.

The researchers used the Multi-Generation Register to identify all full-sibling pairs discordant for height. The results showed that, compared with the tallest women (>185 cm) and men (>190 cm), there was a graded decreased risk by lower height for men and women. The risk was lowest in women <155 cm (hazard ratio [HR], 0.31) and men <160 cm (HR, 0.35).

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A graded association in the cosibling design among men and women was observed, although a significant association in women was noted only for a difference of ≥10 cm (HR for sisters, 0.65). Among brothers, a height difference ≥10 cm was associated with an HR of 0.69. The authors note that the association between VTE and a difference of 10 cm was not weaker than in the general population sample.

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“The present study is the largest epidemiological study and the only nationwide study of VTE and height, as well as the first using a cosibling design,” the investigators concluded. “Our study also shows that the association between height and VTE is graded and valid for different manifestations of VTE. Most importantly, use of sibling pair analysis, which reduces the influence of familial confounding, showed a strong association between VTE and height.”


Zöller B, Ji J, Sundquist J, Sundquist K. Body height and incident risk of venous thromboembolism [published online September 5, 2017]. Circ Cardiovasc Genet. doi:10.1161/CIRCGENETICS.116.001651