Blood clots can quickly turn serious and life-threatening, but while there are many factors that can lead to the development of a clot, it's possible to have one with no obvious symptoms. That's why it's extra important to know what risk factors can increase your chances of developing a blood clot. And as it turns out, how tall you are could be one of them. According to research, once you're taller than a certain height, you're more likely to get blood clots. Read on to find out if your height puts you in the danger zone, and for more on your risk factors, If You Have This Blood Type, You're More Likely to Get Blood Clots.
A man who is 6'2" or taller is most likely to develop blood clots.
Researchers sought to discover if there was a link between height and the likelihood of developing blood clots, publishing their 2017 study in Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics, an American Heart Association journal. The researchers studied more than two million Swedish siblings and found that height was associated with a risk of developing venous thromboembolism—a type of blood clot that starts in one's veins. According to the study, men 6'2" or taller had the highest risk of developing these type of blood clots. In comparison, men shorter than 5'3" had a 65 percent decreased risk of developing venous thromboembolism, and men between 5'9" and 6'1" had a 30 percent decreased risk. And for more on what your blood type can tell you, If You Have This Blood Type, Your Heart Attack Risk Is Higher, Study Says.
A woman 6' or taller is most likely to develop blood clots.
The study also examined women who were pregnant at least once, and the researchers found similar results to that of men. According to the study, women who were 6' or taller had the highest risk of developing venous thromboembolism. In comparison, women who were shorter than 5' had a 60 percent decreased risk of developing these kinds of blood clots. And women who were between 5'7" and 5'9" also had a 30 percent decreased risk of developing venous thromboembolism when compared to women 6' or taller. "Thus, the association of height on [venous thromboembolism] is not limited to men but is also valid for women," the researchers concluded. And for more useful information delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
There are a few reasons taller people are more at risk for developing certain kinds of blood clots.
Since the study examined siblings, the researchers' findings concluded that height is an independent risk factor for venous thromboembolism, as the "use of sibling pairs reduces the likelihood that familial confounding explains the results." According to lead researcher Bengt Zöller, MD, an associate professor at Lund University and Malmö University Hospital in Malmö, Sweden, gravity may explain the association between height and venous thromboembolism risk. "It could just be that because taller individuals have longer leg veins, there is more surface area where problems can occur. There is also more gravitational pressure in leg veins of taller persons that can increase the risk of blood flow slowing or temporarily stopping," Zöller said in a statement. And for more on blood clots, If You Take This Medication, You're More Likely to Get a Blood Clot.
Most people don't recognize the signs and symptoms of blood clots.
According to the National Blood Clot Alliance, less than one in four people actually recognize the signs of a blood clot. Per the American Heart Association, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE) are two serious and life-threatening types of venous thromboembolism that you need to know the symptoms of. DVT is where a blood clot forms in a deep vein—usually occurring in the lower leg and thigh, and almost always affecting only one side at a time. You may experience leg pain or tenderness of the thigh or calf, leg swelling, skin that feels warn to the touch, and reddish discoloration or red streaks. PE occurs when a DVT clot breaks free and travels to the lungs, causing unexplained shortness of breath, rapid breathing, chest pain anywhere under the rib cage which may become worse with deep breathing, fast heart rate, and light headedness or passing out.
It's important to know if you are experiencing a blood clot, as the American Heart Association reported in 2020 that the risk of dying from PE is on the rise. PE and DVT kill up to 100,000 people in the U.S. every year, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "Height is not something we can do anything about," Zöller said. "However, the height in the population has increased, and continues increasing, which could be contributing to the fact that the incidence of thrombosis has increased." And for more signs of serious health problems, If This Wakes You Up at Night, Your Heart May Be in Danger, Experts Warn.