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Associations of components of adult height with coronary heart disease in postmenopausal women: the British women’s heart and health study
  1. D A Lawlor1,
  2. M Taylor2,
  3. G Davey Smith1,
  4. D Gunnell1,
  5. S Ebrahim1
  1. 1Department of Social Medicine, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  2. 2Epidemiology Group, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr Debbie A Lawlor
    Department of Social Medicine, University of Bristol, Canynge Hall, Whiteladies Road, Bristol BS8 2PR, UK;


Objective: To assess the associations between components of adult height and coronary heart disease (CHD) in postmenopausal women.

Methods: Cross sectional analysis of 4286 women randomly selected from 23 British towns. The association of components of adult height with prevalent CHD (n  =  694) were assessed.

Results: Shorter stature, shorter leg length, and trunk length were all associated with CHD in age adjusted analyses. The association between trunk length and CHD was attenuated to the null with adjustment for smoking. The leg length–CHD association was independent of smoking, socioeconomic position in childhood and adulthood, birth weight, and other potential confounders. Insulin resistance did not appear to be an important mediating factor in the association between leg length and CHD. After full adjustment for all potential confounding factors the odds ratio (95% confidence interval) of CHD for a 1 SD (4.3 cm) increase in leg length was 0.84 (0.77 to 0.93) and the odds ratio for a 1 SD (0.05) increase in the leg to trunk ratio was 0.85 (0.79 to 0.95).

Conclusions: The specific association between leg length and CHD suggests that early life environmental exposures that influence skeletal growth also influence CHD risk in later life.

  • CHD, coronary heart disease
  • CI, confidence interval
  • ELISA, enzyme linked immunosorbent assay
  • FEV1, forced expiratory volume in one second
  • FVC, forced vital capacity
  • HOMA, homeostasis model assessment
  • anthropometry
  • coronary heart disease
  • leg length
  • life course epidemiology
  • stature

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