Human size affects individual risk of thrombosis
In Germany alone, around 100,000 people die each year as a result of venous thrombosis. It has long been known that increasing age, certain previous illnesses, smoking, obesity and lack of exercise increase the risk of thrombosis. Researchers have now discovered another risk factor: They found that the risk of vascular occlusion is greater in tall people.
100,000 Germans die each year from the consequences of thrombosis
According to the German Society for Angiology / Society for Vascular Medicine (DGA), the number of thromboses and the associated complications in the form of pulmonary embolism has increased significantly in recent years. Undetected thrombosis quickly becomes a life-threatening condition. In Germany alone, an estimated 100,000 people die as a result of venous thrombosis each year. Researchers from Sweden are now reporting that tall people have a higher risk of thrombosis.
Blood clot clogs the vessel
With thrombosis, a blood clot (thrombus) forms, which can narrow a vessel or completely block it. This happens most often in the leg veins.
If the blood clot dissolves and is carried into the lungs with the bloodstream, it can block blood vessels there (thromboembolism) and cause pulmonary embolism, which is often fatal.
Blood clots can also cause a heart attack or stroke, as well as other circulatory disorders.
Old age as the main risk factor
Age is the main risk factor for thrombosis. According to health experts, the risk increases significantly from the age of 60. People with varicose veins, lung or heart disease as well as smokers and overweight people also have an increased risk of thrombosis.
In addition, it is known that a lack of exercise such as after a long period of bed rest after surgery or when traveling by air and also hormonal changes such as during pregnancy or due to the birth control pill result in an increased risk of thrombosis.
Swedish researchers are now reporting in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics that apparently tall people are also at higher risk for thrombosis.
In their analysis, the experts found that the risk of a vein becoming blocked by a migratory blood clot increases in size for both men and women.
If the results are confirmed, body size and obesity should be taken into account when assessing personal risk in the future, first author Bengt Zöller from the University of Lund in Malmö said in a message quoted by the American Heart Association.
Tall people have longer leg veins
To get their results, the scientists examined data from more than 2.5 million Swedish men and women.
The evaluation showed that the risk of venous thromboembolism increases with body size. The smallest subjects had the least risk, according to the study authors.
Accordingly, the risk for men who were less than 1.60 meters decreased by about 65 percent compared to men over 1.90 meters.
Sibling data also showed that larger men and women were at higher risk of thromboembolism than their smaller brothers or sisters.
"It could be that with taller people with longer leg veins, there is simply more surface that can cause problems," explained Zöller.
"There is a higher gravitational pressure in the leg veins of tall people, which increases the risk that blood flow will slow down or temporarily stop."
You can not change anything about the body size
According to Zöller, the results of the study could explain a medical observation: "The body size in the population has increased and continues to increase, which could contribute to an increase in thrombosis numbers."
But: "Height is something we cannot change," said the study author. The body size of people is largely determined by the genes. Environmental factors also play a major role.
According to experts, better nutrition, improved hygienic conditions and better medical care are probably responsible for the growth in size of the past decades.
Earlier studies have also shown that height determines the risk of a number of diseases.
Scientists from the German Center for Diabetes Research and the Harvard School of Public Health (USA) have summarized some of the findings to date.
According to this, older people have a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, but a higher risk of cancer. (ad)