Monday, August 22, 2011

Thin Thighs May Indicate Signs of Heart Trouble

Oh, now this is priceless, and I speak on behalf of people everywhere who have larger-then-they'd-like thighs. A Danish study published in the September 4th issue of BMJ has found that thin thighs might be an indication of signs of heart trouble, disease and early death in both men and women.

Hard to believe that those thighs so many of us envy as they parade around in form fitting jeans could have a dark side. "This is the first time that someone has related thigh size to pathology," explains study author Berit L. Heitmann, a professor of nutritional epidemiology.


You've probably heard about the link between cardiovascular risk and obesity, and here's also been work that suggests larger waist circumference may impact your risk. But thigh size?

The study, conducted by a team at Copenhagen University Hospital, followed a random subset of adults that included 3,000 men and women who were part of the Danish MONICA project.

The subjects' height, weight, hip, thigh and waist circumference and body composition was measured in 1987 and 1988 and they've been followed ever since. This wealth of data has allowed the team to come up with an ideal thigh measurement - about 24 inches or 60 centimeters.

The increased death risk for those with the thin thighs wasn't related to weight around the middle, or even overall body weight. What's more, the risk wasn't affected by lifestyle and the cardiovascular risk factors (high blood pressure and high cholesterol) we typically expect to have an impact on the body.

The researchers, though freely admitting that more work in this area must be done, believe that thin thighs suggest a lack of overall muscle mass in the body.

Such lack of muscle leads to insulin sensitivity and heart disease. In an accompanying editorial by Australian authority Dr. Ian A. Scott the plausibility of this theory is given its due.

Of course the idea of thin anything being linked to disease seems counter-intuitive. Experts like Dr. Vivian Fonseca, chief of endocrinology at Scott & White Memorial Clinic in Texas suggest that thin thighs mean fat and muscle aren't being put in the right place.

Fat in the skeletal muscles, liver or pancreas is associated with diseases like diabetes and an increase in death rates. He suggests it's where the fat is going that may be the trouble, not those enviable thin thighs.

Considering the small numbers in the study, and the rather weak relationship between the size of the thigh and cardiovascular risk, no one is sure just how useful looking at thigh measurements might be.

For now, most doctors will continue to rely on risk factors from your medical history, examination of your heart showing any signs of heart trouble, checking you cardiovascular system, as well as a fasting cholesterol blood test to assess your risk of cardiovascular disease.

If you're concerned about your risk there are things you can do now to help yourself. If you smoke you'll want to stop. You'll also want to take control of your weight, despite what this latest study suggests carrying more weight increases the risk of many conditions - we know this.

You also need to know your cholesterol numbers, and take steps to bring them in line if they're too high. Do what your doctor tells you for your blood pressure, watch your salt intake and keep it to no more than 1,500 milligrams a day, lower if you can.

Finally, get up and get active - your heart is a muscle, and like any muscle in the body, it needs exercise to stay fit and healthy.

Thin Thighs May Indicate Signs of Heart Trouble



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