Associations of weight change with changes in calf muscle characteristics and functional decline in peripheral artery disease

Tamar S. Polonsky*, Lu Tian, Dongxue Zhang, Lydia A. Bazzano, Michael H. Criqui, Luigi Ferrucci, Jack M. Guralnik, Melina R. Kibbe, Christiaan Leeuwenburgh, Robert L. Sufit, Mary M. McDermott

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


Background-Among people with lower extremity peripheral artery disease, obesity is associated with faster functional decline than normal weight. The association of weight loss with functional decline in peripheral artery disease is unknown. Methods and Results-Adults with an ankle-brachial index <0.90 were identified from Chicago-area hospitals in 2002-2004. Weight and 6-minute walk distance were measured annually. Weight change categories were weight loss or gain (≥5 pounds/year at ≥1 visit) or stable (weight change <5 pounds at each visit). Participants reported whether weight loss was “intentional” or “unintentional.” Calf muscle area was measured with computed tomography every 2 years. Associations of weight change with changes in calf muscle area and 6-minute walk distance were analyzed using mixed-effects models and adjusted for age, body mass index, ankle-brachial index, physical activity, and other confounders. Among 389 participants, mean ankle-brachial index was 0.63±0.16, mean age was 74.5±7.8, and mean body mass index was 28.1±5.1 kg/m2. Over 3.23±1.37 years, muscle area declined more in adults with intentional weight loss versus stable or gain (pair-wise comparisons, P<0.001). Intentional weight loss was associated with less annual decline in 6-minute walk distance than weight gain (intentional loss, 3.7 m; stable, -14.0 m; gain, -28.5 m; unintentional loss, -20.8 m; pair-wise comparison intentional loss versus gain, P=0.003). Conclusions-Despite a greater loss of calf muscle area, adults with peripheral artery disease who intentionally lost ≥5 pounds experienced less functional decline than those who gained weight. A randomized trial is needed to establish whether benefits of weight loss in peripheral artery disease outweigh potential adverse effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere010890
JournalJournal of the American Heart Association
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019



  • Obesity
  • Observational studies
  • Peripheral artery disease
  • Physical exercise

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

Cite this

Polonsky, T. S., Tian, L., Zhang, D., Bazzano, L. A., Criqui, M. H., Ferrucci, L., Guralnik, J. M., Kibbe, M. R., Leeuwenburgh, C., Sufit, R. L., & McDermott, M. M. (2019). Associations of weight change with changes in calf muscle characteristics and functional decline in peripheral artery disease. Journal of the American Heart Association, 8(13), [e010890].