Age-related loss of skeletal muscle is associated with increased risk of functional limitation and cardiovascular (CV) mortality. In the elderly abdominal aortic calcification (AAC) can increase CV risk by altering aortic properties which may raise blood pressure and increase cardiac workload. This study investigated the association between low muscle mass and AAC in community-dwelling older Australians. Data for this cross-sectional analysis were drawn from a 2010 sub-study of the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study in the setting of community-dwelling older adults. Three hundred and twenty-seven participants [mean age = 71 ± 6 years; mean BMI = 28 ± 5 kg/m2; females n = 199 (62 %)] had body composition determined by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) and AAC determined by radiography. Participants were stratified into tertiles of sex-specific BMI-normalised appendicular lean mass (ALM). Those in the lowest tertile were considered to have low relative muscle mass. Aortic calcification score (ACS) was determined visually as the extent of calcification on the aortic walls between L1 and L4 vertebrae (range: 0–24). Severe AAC was defined as ACS ≥ 6. Prevalence of any AAC was highest in participants with low relative muscle mass (74 %) compared to the middle (65 %) and upper (53 %) tertiles (p trend = 0.006). The lower ALM/BMI tertile had increased odds (Odds ratio = 2.3; 95 % confidence interval: 1.1–4.6; p = 0.021) of having any AAC; and having more severe AAC (2.2; 1.2–4.0; p = 0.009) independent of CV risk factors, serum calcium and physical activity. AAC is more prevalent and severe in community-dwelling older adults with low relative muscle mass. Maintaining muscle mass could form part of a broader primary prevention strategy in reducing AAC.
- Aortic calcification
- Cardiovascular disease