Larger calves linked to lower risk of carotid plaques


NEW YORK (Reuters Health), Nov. 19 - Calf circumference shows an inverse association with carotid plaques, according to French researchers who report the findings of the "Three-City Study" in the November issue of Stroke.

Dr. Mahmoud Zureik of INSERM 700, Paris, and colleagues note there is growing evidence that body composition and fat distribution are of major importance in determining vascular risk, but these associations are poorly understood.

To gain further information on the relationship between calf circumference, a marker of peripheral fat and lean mass, and carotid plaques, the researchers studied more than 6,200 residents of Dijon, Montpellier, or Bordeaux. None of these participants were institutionalized and all were between the ages of 65 and 84 years.

Increasing calf circumference was associated with fewer carotid plaques. Compared to those with the lowest calf circumference, the odds ratio in those with the highest was 0.71. The effect was independent of age, gender, body mass index, and other vascular risk factors.

The team found an additional effect of waist-to-hip ratio (WHR). Those with highest WHR and the lowest calf circumference had the highest frequency of carotid plaques (55.1%). In subjects with the lowest WHR and highest calf circumference, the frequency was 31.8%.

The investigators acknowledge the need for validation, but suggest that "calf circumference may be a new anthropometric marker to take into account when assessing the risk of carotid atherosclerosis."

Stroke 2008;39:2958-2965.

Last Updated: 2008-11-18 13:31:19 -0400 (Reuters Health)

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