Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Medicine (MMed)


Pathology (East Africa)


Background: The heart size has traditionally been assessed using absolute reference weights. But the heart weight (HW) has been shown to depend on one’s body size hence a better measure is the ratio of the HW to the body weight (BW) – the HW-BW coefficient. Initially noted to be 0.43% and 0.40% in males and females respectively, recent studies have shown an increase of up to 0.51%.

Objective: To determine the HW-BW coefficient in Kenyans aged 14 years and above.

Methods: One hundred and four deceased Kenyans aged 14 years and above, with no heart or chronic lung disease, were recruited into the prospective cross-sectional study. Their ages, body lengths (BLs), BW and HW were recorded. Their body mass indices (BMI) and body surface areas (BSA) were also calculated.

Results: There were 88 males and 16 females, all of African descent. Males had larger HW. The HW-BW ratio was 0.48% and 0.42% in males and females respectively. The difference in the value between the sexes was statistically significant. Among the males, there was a significant positive correlation between HW and all body indices as well as with age. Among the females, there was a significant positive correlation between HW and BSA and between HW and age. Recently generated HW-vs-BW and HW-vs-BSA charts from the UK were found unsuitable for the Kenyan context.

Conclusions: The Kenyan HW-BW coefficient is lower than that recently documented in other parts of the world. Males have a larger coefficient than females. The HW is related to both size and age of an individual.

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Pathology Commons