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Women (Photo : Reuters/Edgar Su)

According to a study published online in the New England Journal of Medicine, short people are at higher risk of heart disease, BBC News reported.

Heart disease is the major cause of death in the United States, The Heart Foundation noted.

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Researchers at the University of Leicester analyzed 180 genetic variants tied to heart disease and to short height using data from 200,000 people. The results of the study showed that each extra 2.5 inches cuts incidence of coronary disease by 13.5 percent. Sir Nilesh Samani, the lead author of the study, said that an individual who is 5 feet tall has a 30 percent higher chance of getting heart disease than an individual who is 5-foot-6.

Scientists discovered that the genetic variants associated with smaller height were also associated with  somewhat higher levels of blood fats (triglycerides) and bad LDL cholesterol, both of which increase the risk of heart disease.

The British Heart Foundation Charity's Associate Medical Director Professor Jeremy Pearson said that this was the first study to point out that the heart disease risk was in part due to genetics.

The association between height and heart disease was first pointed out by cardiologist Dr. Paul Dudley White in 1951, according to The Seattle Times. White found that three women and 97 men who suffered a heart attack before age 40 were 2 inches shorter than 146 healthy men.

Since then, experts have observed that people who are short are more likely to suffer heart disease in a variety of ethnic groups and populations, even after considering risk factors such as obesity, diabetes, cholesterol and smoking.