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09/18/2009 - News

Small Thighs Linked to Increased Heart Disease Risk

By: June Chen, MD


Both men and women with small thigh circumference have an increased risk of heart disease and premature death, according to the results of a Danish study published online in BMJ.

Researchers from Copenhagen University Hospital and Glostrup University Hospital in Denmark performed a large cohort study to examine the associations between thigh circumference, heart disease, and overall mortality. Using data from 1,436 men and 1,380 women who participated in the Danish MONICA project, the researchers found that smaller thighs were associated with an increased risk of both cardiovascular and coronary heart disease and total mortality in both men and women. In particular, those men and women with a thigh circumference of less than 60 centimeters had a greatly increased risk of premature death. However, above this threshold, there was no additional benefit in having larger thighs.
Interestingly, this link between small thigh circumference and increased heart disease risk was independent of abdominal and general obesity, lifestyle, and heart disease risk factors such as cholesterol level or blood pressure. The researchers speculate that the adverse effect of small thigh circumference might be related to a deficiency of muscle mass. If the findings of this study are confirmed in other populations, thigh circumference might be an easy way for healthcare providers to identify individuals at an increased risk of heart disease and early death.


BMJ 2009;339:b3292.


Created on: 09/18/2009
Reviewed on: 09/18/2009

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