Journal Article

Height, social position and coronary heart disease incidence: the contribution of genetic and environmental factors

Silventoinen, K., Lahtinen, H., Smith, G. D., Morris, T. T., Martikainen, P.
Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 77:6, 384–390 (2023)


Background: The associations between height, socioeconomic position (SEP) and coronary heart disease (CHD) incidence are well established, but the contribution of genetic factors to these associations is still poorly understood. We used a polygenic score (PGS) for height to shed light on these associations.
Methods: Finnish population-based health surveys in 1992–2011 (response rates 65–93%) were linked to population registers providing information on SEP and CHD incidence up to 2019. The participants (N=29 996; 54% women) were aged 25–75 at baseline, and there were 1767 CHD incident cases (32% in women) during 472 973 person years of follow-up. PGS-height was calculated based on 33 938 single-nucleotide polymorphisms, and residual height was defined as the residual of height after adjusting for PGS-height in a linear regression model. HRs of CHD incidence were calculated using Cox regression.
Results: PGS-height and residual height showed clear gradients for education, social class and income, with a larger association for residual height. Residual height also showed larger associations with CHD incidence (HRs per 1 SD 0.94 in men and 0.87 in women) than PGS-height (HRs per 1 SD 0.99 and 0.97, respectively). Only a small proportion of the associations between SEP and CHD incidence was statistically explained by the height indicators (6% or less).
Conclusions: Residual height associations with SEP and CHD incidence were larger than for PGS-height. This supports the role of material and social living conditions in childhood as contributing factors to the association of height with both SEP and CHD risk.

Keywords: Finland
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