Pericardial Fat is Associated With Prevalent Atrial Fibrillation: The Framingham Heart Study

OBJECTIVES: Obesity represents an important risk factor for atrial fibrillation (AF). We tested the hypothesis that pericardial fat, a unique fat deposit in close anatomic proximity to cardiac structures and autonomic fibers, is associated with prevalent AF.

METHODS: Participants from the Framingham Heart Study underwent multidetector computed tomography from 2002 to 2005. We estimated the association between quantitative pericardial, intrathoracic and visceral adipose tissue volumes (per standard deviation of volume) with prevalent AF adjusting for established AF risk factors (age, sex, systolic blood pressure, blood pressure treatment, PR interval, and clinically significant valvular disease).

RESULTS: Of the 3217 eligible participants (mean age, 50.6+/-10.1 years; 48% women), 54 had a confirmed diagnosis of AF. Pericardial fat but not intrathoracic or visceral abdominal fat was associated with prevalent AF in multivariable-adjusted models (odds ratio per standard deviation of pericardial fat volume, 1.28; 95% confidence intervals, 1.03 to 1.58). Further adjustments for body mass index, heart failure, myocardial infarction, and intrathoracic fat volume did not materially change the association between pericardial fat and AF.

CONCLUSIONS: Pericardial fat was associated with prevalent AF even after adjustment for AF risk factors, including body mass index. If this association is replicated, further investigations into the mechanisms linking pericardial fat to AF are merited. 

PMID: 20558845

Posted in Computed Tomography and tagged , , , , .


  1. See also:

    Left atrial epicardial adiposity and atrial fibrillation.
    Batal O, et al.
    Circ Arrhythm Electrophysiol. 2010 Jun 1;3(3):230-6

  2. See:

    Effect of epicardial fat pad ablation on acute atrial electrical remodeling and inducibility of atrial fibrillation.
    Chang D, et al.
    Circ J. 2010;74(5):885-94.

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