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Greater Height Loss in Middle Age Tied to Higher Risk for Death in Women

Last Updated: August 16, 2021.

MONDAY, Aug. 16, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Height loss in middle age is a marker for excess mortality in Northern European women, according to a study published online Aug. 9 in BMJ Open.

Sofia Klingberg, Ph.D., from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, and colleagues examined height changes in middle-aged Northern European women and the association with overall and cardiovascular mortality. The analysis included 2,406 Swedish and Danish women born on selected years from 1908 to 1952, with baseline examinations at 30 to 60 years and follow-up 10 to 13 years later.

The researchers found that each 1-cm height loss over follow-up was associated with an increased risk for total mortality (hazard ratios, 1.14 and 1.21 for Swedish and Danish women, respectively). Independent of age, low height and high leisure-time physical activity at baseline were protective of height loss. Major height loss (>2 cm) was associated with a higher risk for total mortality (hazard ratios, 1.74 and 1.80 for Swedish and Danish women, respectively). Major height loss was also associated with cause-specific mortality, including stroke mortality (hazard ratio, 2.31), total cardiovascular disease mortality (hazard ratio, 2.14), and mortality other than cardiovascular disease (hazard ratio, 1.71).

"These findings suggest the need for increased attention to height loss to identify individuals at increased cardiovascular disease risk," the authors write. "Moreover, regular physical activity may be beneficial not only in prevention of cardiovascular disease, but also in prevention of height loss and thereby further contributing to cardiovascular disease prevention."

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