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Pericardial Fat Volume Tied to Coronary Artery Plaque Burden

Correlation between pericardial fat volume and plaque burden stronger in men than women

TUESDAY, Oct. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Pericardial fat volume is positively associated with coronary atherosclerotic plaque burden, as measured by plaque eccentricity, in asymptomatic individuals, and this relationship is stronger in men than women, according to a study published in the October issue of Radiology.

Cuilian Miao, M.D., from the Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago, and colleagues investigated the correlation between pericardial fat and atherosclerotic plaque in 183 asymptomatic patients (89 women and 94 men; mean age, 61 years) from the community-based Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. The index of plaque burden was assessed by coronary artery eccentricity (ratio of maximal to minimal coronary artery wall thickness determined using magnetic resonance imaging). The correlation between pericardial fat volume (determined by computed tomography) with coronary artery wall thickness and plaque eccentricity was analyzed.

The investigators identified a significant association between pericardial fat volume and the degree of plaque eccentricity in both genders. The correlation between pericardial fat and plaque eccentricity remained significant in men but not women after adjusting for body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, traditional risk factors, C-reactive protein level, and coronary artery calcium content. BMI and waist circumference were significantly associated with the degree of plaque eccentricity in a univariate model, but not after adjustment for pericardial fat volume or traditional risk factors.

"Pericardial fat volume was positively related to coronary atherosclerotic plaque burden in asymptomatic individuals. This relationship was stronger in men than in women -- possibly because of the greater atherosclerotic disease burden in men," the authors write.

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