Obesity, myocardial infarction and venous thrombosis – shared risk factor, different mechanisms?

TREC findings suggest that the pattern of body fat distribution and the metabolic changes in obesity have differential impact on the risk of venous and arterial thrombosis

Obesity is a shared risk factor for both myocardial infarction and venous thrombosis. It is well known that a pattern of central obesity (e.g. a large waist circumference) is strongest related to myocardial infarction.

This association is largely a consequence of metabolic changes in obesity, such as impaired insulin sensitivity, hypertension and dyslipidemia. Less is known about the mechanisms by which obesity causes venous thrombosis.

Therefore, we wanted to compare how obesity measures that reflect different patterns of body fat distribution (body mass index, waist circumference, hip circumference, waist-hip ratio and waist-height ratio) influence the risk of myocardial infarction and venous thrombosis. Further, we wanted to explore to what extent the metabolic consequences of obesity contributed to these risks.

A total of 6708 subjects who attended the second phase of the fourth Tromsø Study in 1994/1995 were followed until December 31th, 2010. Subjects with central obesity (e.g. wide waist) had the highest risk of myocardial infarction, while subjects with wide hips did not have an increased risk.

In contrast, all measures of obesity, including hip circumference, were associated with venous thrombosis. Furthermore, the associations between obesity and myocardial infarction, but not with venous thrombosis, were affected by the metabolic consequences of obesity.

Our findings suggest that the impact of body fat distribution in obesity, and the underlying mechanisms, differ on risk of arterial and venous thrombosis.

The article is published in European Journal of Medicine


Horvei LD, Braekkan SK, Mathiesen EB, Njolstad I, Wilsgaard T, Hansen JB. Obesity measures and risk of venous thromboembolism and myocardial infarction. Eur J Epidemiol. 2014.

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Last updated: 03.10.2014 16:20