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Metabolism. 2013 Nov;62(11):1562-9. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2013.06.001. Epub 2013 Aug 1.

Null association between abdominal muscle and calcified atherosclerosis in community-living persons without clinical cardiovascular disease: the multi-ethnic study of atherosclerosis.

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Division of Preventive Medicine, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA.



Lean muscle loss has been hypothesized to explain J-shaped relationships of body mass index (BMI) with cardiovascular disease (CVD), yet associations of muscle mass with CVD are largely unknown. We hypothesized that low abdominal lean muscle area would be associated with greater calcified atherosclerosis, independent of other CVD risk factors.


We investigated 1020 participants from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis who were free of clinical CVD. Computed tomography (CT) scans at the 4th and 5th lumbar disk space were used to estimate abdominal lean muscle area. Chest and abdominal CT scans were used to assess coronary artery calcification(CAC), thoracic aortic calcification (TAC), and abdominal aortic calcification (AAC).


The mean age was 64±10 years, 48% were female, and mean BMI was 28±5 kg/m2. In models adjusted for demographics, physical activity, caloric intake, and traditional CVD risk factors, there was no inverse association of abdominal muscle mass with CAC (prevalence ratio [PR] 1.02 [95% CI 0.95,1.10]), TAC (PR 1.13 [95% CI 0.92, 1.39]) or AAC (PR 0.99 [95% CI 0.94, 1.04]) prevalence. Similarly, there was no significant inverse relationship between abdominal lean muscle area and CAC, TAC, and AAC severity.


In community-living individuals without clinical CVD, greater abdominal lean muscle area is not associated with less calcified atherosclerosis.


AAC; Atherosclerosis; BMI; CAC; CT; CVD; Cardiovascular disease; Lean muscle; PR; TAC; abdominal aortic calcification; body mass index; cardiovascular disease; computed tomography; coronary artery calcification; prevalence ratio.; thoracic aortic calcification

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