Being both tall AND obese can be a dangerous combination, according to a new Norwegian study released by the American Heart Association.
Both men and women — particularly men — who are both tall and obese are at a higher risk for VTE, or venous thromboembolism. VTE refers to potentially dangerous blood clots that occur in deep veins, usually the legs, or as pulmonary embolisms, potentially fatal clots in the lungs.
Compared with men who are short (defined as 5 feet, 7.7 inches or less) and men who are at a normal body weight, with a body mass index of less than 25, the risk for VTE is just over 5 times higher in obese and tall men, about 2.5 times higher for normal-weight and tall men who stand at least 5 feet, 11.7 inches, and just over 2 times higher in obese and short men.
The increased risk for women who are both tall and obese was comparable to other known risk factors for VTE, which include being pregnant, using birth control pills and having an inherited predisposition for VTE.
Compared with women who are short (defined as 5 feet. 2.6 inches or less) and at a normal weight, the risk is 2.77 times higher for women who are tall and obese and 1.83 times higher in obese and short women.
There isn’t any increased risk for women who are tall (5 feet 6 inches or more) and are at a normal weight because most women aren’t tall enough for height to become a factor, according to the study. Very tall women may be at increased risk, but there aren’t enough of them to investigate that factor, the senior study author, Sigrid Braekkan, concluded.
Tall people can lower their risk by staying slim, Braekkan said. Obesity causes increased pressure on the abdomen, which may make it harder for the calf muscle pump to return blood from the legs. Obesity is also linked to low-grade inflammation that may make the blood more likely to clot, he said.
The research was published in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology: Journal of the American Heart Association.
Source: American Heart Association