Pericardial Fat Associated With Risk for Atrial Fibrillation

Increased pericardial fat appears to increase risk for both paroxysmal and persistent a-fib

TUESDAY, Aug. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Subjects with higher volumes of pericardial fat are at increased risk for atrial fibrillation (AF) regardless of the presence of traditional risk factors, according to a study in the Aug. 31 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

M. Obadah Al Chekakie, M.D., of the Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Ill., and colleagues used computed tomography to measure the volume of pericardial fat in 273 patients: 126 patients with paroxysmal AF, 71 patients with persistent AF, and 76 subjects in sinus rhythm.

The researchers found that subjects with AF had significantly more pericardial fat than patients without AF (mean 101.6 ml versus 76.1 ml). Among the subjects with AF, those with persistent AF had a significantly larger pericardial fat volume than those with paroxysmal AF (115.4 ml versus 93.9 ml). Pericardial fat volume was related to increased risk for both paroxysmal and persistent AF (odds ratios, 1.11 and 1.18, respectively), and the association was independent of other clinical and demographic factors, such as hypertension, left atrial enlargement, valvular heart disease, left ventricular ejection fraction, diabetes mellitus, body mass index, age, and sex.

"Pericardial fat volume is highly associated with paroxysmal and persistent AF independent of traditional risk factors, including left atrial enlargement. Whether pericardial fat plays a role in the pathogenesis of AF requires future investigation," the authors write.

Two study authors disclosed financial ties to medical device companies.

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