Heart Health

19 November 2008

Big calves=lower heart risk

Research seems to indicate that the circumference of your calf has an opposite association with plaque build-up in the carotid arteries in the neck that supply blood to the brain.

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Research seems to indicate that the circumference of your calf has an opposite association with plaque build-up in the carotid arteries in the neck that supply blood to the brain.

In their study, increasing calf circumference was associated with fewer carotid plaques. And there is growing evidence that body composition and fat distribution are of major importance in determining vascular risk, but these associations are poorly understood, Dr Mahmoud Zureik of Inserm 700, Paris and colleagues note in the journal Stroke.

To gain further information on the relationship between calf circumference and neck artery plaque, the researchers studied more than 6 200 residents of Dijon, Montpellier or Bordeaux who were between the ages of 65 and 84 years old.

Calf circumference may be a new marker
Individuals with the highest calf circumference had 29% lower odds of carotid plaque, relative to those with the lowest calf circumference, they report. This was true regardless of age, gender, body weight and other vascular risk factors.

Zureik and colleagues found an additional effect of a large waistline. That is, individuals with the highest "waist-to-hip ratio" and the lowest calf circumference had the highest frequency of carotid plaques (about 55%).

In individuals with the lowest waist-to-hip ratio and the highest calf circumference, the frequency was about 32%.

The investigators acknowledge the need for validation, but suggest that calf circumference may be a new marker to take into account when assessing the risk of hardening of the carotid arteries. – (Reuters Health, November 2008)

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