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Height Loss May Signal Heart, Bone Disease

Wednesday, 21 Sep 2011 12:30 PM


If you’re an older adult, chances are you know that a loss of height comes with age. However, new studies have found that quickly becoming shorter can be a sign your bone and heart health may be at risk, especially if you are a man.

"If you are a female, between the ages of 45 and 65, and you notice you are shrinking, that's pretty usual," Marian Hannan, an epidemiologist at Hebrew Senior Life, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, tells the Wall Street Journal. "If you're a man, it may be a warning sign to speak to your healthcare provider."

The natural aging process involves losing height because weakening muscles lose mass, foot arches fall, and gel-like spinal discs flatten. After 40, many of us lose one-quarter to one-third of an inch of height every decade. And caffeine, smoking, alcohol, and certain medications can make shrinking worse.

But recent research shows accelerated shrinking is cause for concern about risk for osteoporosis and heart disease, the newspaper reports.

Men older than 70 who lose two or more inches in two years have a 54 percent higher risk of hip fracture than men who don’t lose as much height, according to Hannan’s study in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. Older women who lose the same amount of height in that time have a 21 percent greater risk.

Another study found that men who lost 1.2 inches of height or more over 20 years were 46 percent more likely to have heart disease and 64 percent more likely to have died from any cause than men who didn’t lose as much height.

For the complete Wall Street Journal story, Go Here.




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