People who are taller have a higher chance of developing atrial fibrillation, an irregular and usually rapid heartbeat, which often leads to stroke, heart failure, and other complications say a recent study.
The research, which reveals a strong link between the genetic variant associated with height and one's risk for AFib, is among the first to demonstrate that height may be a causal -- not correlated -- a risk factor for AFib.
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 per cent increase in the 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," said the study's lead author Michael Levin, MD, 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," added Levin.
AFib, which affects more than 33 million people worldwide, is a common, abnormal heart rhythm. There are several clinical risk factors for developing AFib, including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
They found that height, and genetic variants associated with height, are strongly associated with an increased risk of AFib, independent from traditional clinical and echocardiographic risk factors.
"These analyses show how we can use human genetics to help us better understand causal risk factors for common disease," said the study's senior author Scott Damrauer, MD, an assistant professor of Surgery at Penn Medicine and a vascular surgeon at the Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Centre.
"They also illustrate how we can combine summary-level statistics from large published studies with individual-level data from institutional biobanks to further our understanding of the human disease," added Damrauer.