Taller height as a risk factor for venous thromboembolism: a Mendelian randomization meta-analysis

N. S. Roetker, S. M. Armasu, J. S. Pankow, P. L. Lutsey, W. Tang, M. A. Rosenberg, T. M. Palmer, R. F. Maclehose, S. R. Heckbert, M. Cushman, M. de Andrade, A. R. Folsom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Essentials Observational data suggest taller people have a higher risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE). We used Mendelian randomization techniques to further explore this association in three studies. Risk of VTE increased by 30–40% for each 10 cm increment in height. Height was more strongly associated with deep vein thrombosis than with pulmonary embolism. Summary: Background Taller height is associated with a greater risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE). Objectives To use instrumental variable (IV) techniques (Mendelian randomization) to further explore this relationship. Methods Participants of European ancestry were included from two cohort studies (Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities [ARIC] study and Cardiovascular Health Study [CHS]) and one case–control study (Mayo Clinic VTE Study [Mayo]). We created two weighted genetic risk scores (GRSs) for height; the full GRS included 668 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from a previously published meta-analysis, and the restricted GRS included a subset of 362 SNPs not associated with weight independently of height. Standard logistic regression and IV models were used to estimate odds ratios (ORs) for VTE per 10-cm increment in height. ORs were pooled across the three studies by the use of inverse variance-weighted random effects meta-analysis. Results Among 9143 ARIC and 3180 CHS participants free of VTE at baseline, there were 367 and 109 incident VTE events. There were 1143 VTE cases and 1292 controls included from Mayo. The pooled ORs from non-IV models and models using the full and restricted GRSs as IVs were 1.27 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.11–1.46), 1.34 (95% CI 1.04–1.73) and 1.45 (95% CI 1.04–2.01) per 10-cm greater height, respectively. Conclusions Taller height is associated with an increased risk of VTE in adults of European ancestry. Possible explanations for this association, including taller people having a greater venous surface area, a higher number of venous valves, or greater hydrostatic pressure, need to be explored further.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1334-1343
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank the staff and participants of ARIC study, the CHS and Mayo for their important contributions. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) supported LITE via HL059367 and ARIC via HL59367 and HL103706, and contracts HHSN268201100005C, HHSN268201100006C, HHSN268201100007C, HHSN268201100008C, HHSN268201100009C, HHSN268201100010C, HHSN268201100011C, and HHSN268201100012C. The CHS was supported by contracts HHSN268201200036C, HHSN268200800007C, N01HC55222, N01HC85079, N01HC85080, N01HC85081, N01HC85082, N01HC85083, and N01HC85086, and grants U01HL080295, U01HL130114 and R01 HL059367 from the NHLBI, with an additional contribution from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Additional support was provided by R01AG023629 from the National Institute on Aging. A full list of principal CHS investigators and institutions can be found at CHS-NHLBI.org. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. Mayo was funded, in part, by grants from the NHLBI (HL66216 and HL83141) and the National Human Genome Research Institute (HG04735) (M. de Andrade and S. M. Armasu). Additionally, M. A. Rosenberg is supported by NHLBI grant 1K23HL127296.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis


  • Mendelian randomization analysis
  • body height
  • genetics
  • meta-analysis
  • venous thromboembolism


Dive into the research topics of 'Taller height as a risk factor for venous thromboembolism: a Mendelian randomization meta-analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this