BACKGROUND - Adult height has been hypothesized to be inversely associated with coronary heart disease; however, studies have produced conflicting results. We sought to examine the relationship between adult height and the prevalence of coronary artery calcium (CAC), a direct measure of subclinical atherosclerosis and surrogate marker of coronary heart disease.
METHODS AND RESULTS - We evaluated the relationship between adult height and CAC in 2703 participants from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Family Heart Study who underwent cardiac computed tomography. We used generalized estimating equations to calculate the prevalence odds ratios for the presence of CAC (CAC>0) across sex-specific quartiles of height. The mean age of the sample was 54.8 years, and 60.2% of participants were female. There was an inverse association between adult height and CAC. After adjusting for age, race, field center, waist circumference, smoking, alcohol, physical activity, systolic blood pressure, antihypertensive medications, diabetes mellitus, diabetic medications, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, lipid-lowering medications, and income, individuals in the tallest quartile had 30% lower odds of having prevalent CAC. The odds ratios (95% confidence intervals) for the presence of CAC across consecutive sex-specific quartiles of height were 1.0 (reference), 1.15 (0.86-1.53), 0.95 (0.73-1.22), and 0.70 (0.53-0.93), and P for trend<0.01. There was no evidence of effect modification for the relationship between adult height and CAC by age or socioeconomic status.
CONCLUSIONS - The results of our study suggest an inverse, independent association between adult height and CAC.