The influence of obesity on calf blood flow and vascular reactivity in older adults

Luke S. Acree, Philip C. Comp, Thomas L. Whitsett, Polly S. Montgomery, Kevin J. Nickel, Anette S. Fjeldstad, Cecilie Fjeldstad, Andrew W. Gardner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Objective. To determine whether differences in vascular reactivity existed among normal weight, overweight, and obese older men and women, and to examine the association between abdominal fat distribution and vascular reactivity. Methods. Eighty-seven individuals who were 60 years of age or older (age = 69 ± 7 yrs; mean ± SD) were grouped into normal weight (BMI < 25; n = 30), overweight (BMI ≥ 25 and < 30; n = 28), or obese (BMI ≥ 30; n = 29) categories. Calf blood flow (BF) was assessed by venous occlusion strain-gauge plethysmography at rest and post-occlusive reactive hyperemia. Results. Post-occlusive reactive hyperemia BF was lower (p = 0.038) in the obese group (5.55 ± 4.67 %/min) than in the normal weight group (8.34 ± 3.89 %/min). Additionally, change in BF from rest to post-occlusion in the obese group (1.93 ± 2.58 %/min) was lower (p = 0.001) than in the normal weight group (5.21 ± 3.59 %/min), as well as the percentage change (75 ± 98 % vs. 202 ± 190 %, p = 0.006, respectively). After adjusting for age, prevalence in hypertension and calf skinfold thickness, change in BF values remained lower (p < 0.05) in obese subjects compared to the normal weight subjects. Lastly, the absolute and percentage change in BF were significantly related to BMI (r = -0.44, p < 0.001, and r = -0.37, p < 0.001, respectively) and to waist circumference (r = -0.36, p = 0.001, and r = -0.32, p = 0.002). Conclusion. Obesity and abdominal adiposity impair vascular reactivity in older men and women, and these deleterious effects on vascular reactivity are independent of conventional risk factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4
JournalDynamic Medicine
StatePublished - 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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