GRADUAL loss of height is normal in both men and women. It begins at about 50 years old and accelerates from around 60 years old onward.
A study that followed northern European women found that considerable height loss in middle age has associations with a more than twofold increased risk of dying from a stroke.
The authors propose that doctors could use height loss in early and middle adulthood to identify women at high risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), including stroke.
The findings suggest that regular physical activity may help prevent the early onset of height loss.
People tend to maintain their height from the end of puberty until their early 50s when it starts to decline slowly.
Research suggests that people who lose a lot of height are more likely to have low bone mineral density, vertebral fractures, and vitamin D deficiency.
Interestingly, people who live at higher latitudes are more prone to osteoporotic fractures, possibly due to less sunlight exposure.
The skin needs sunlight to make vitamin D, which helps strengthen bones. Studies have found that rapid height loss — in mixed cohorts of men and women — has associations with a greater overall mortality rate and increased risk of (CVD).
“There appears to be a relationship between cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis,” said Dr. Nieca Goldberg, a cardiologist at New York University (NYU) School of Medicine and medical director of the NYU Women’s Heart Program.
Speaking on behalf of the American Heart Association (AHA), Dr. Goldberg told Medical News Today that the physiological mechanism behind the link is unclear. “Proposed causes are frailty and decreased endurance as a marker of CVD risk,” she said.
She added that low levels of physical activity increase the risk of CVD, osteoporosis, and muscle weakness, leading to falls and disability.
“A good brisk walk can help to protect our cardiovascular health and prevent bone loss,” she said. To date, most of the studies into links between height loss and CVD have involved older people, and none has focused exclusively on women.
This is surprising, given that women tend to lose more heightTrusted Source than men and are more likely to develop osteoporosis.
To fill this knowledge gap, scientists at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden set out to determine whether height loss in middle age has links to a greater risk of overall mortality and cardiovascular mortality in women.