Epicardial fat, the local visceral fat depot enclosed by the visceral pericardial sac, surrounds the coronary arteries for most of their course, and may contribute to the development of coronary atherosclerosis through local production of inflammatory cytokines. Several studies which measured epicardial fat volume noninvasively have shown a relationship of increased epicardial fat volume with coronary artery disease, with the presence and progression of coronary plaque, major adverse cardiovascular events, myocardial ischemia and atrial fibrillation. Quantitative measurement of epicardial fat volume from noninvasive imaging modalities such as CT and MRI are feasible, and may play a clinical role in cardiovascular risk assessment. The evidence to date warrants larger studies with follow-up to further investigate the role of epicardial fat as an imaging marker with prognostic importance.
Keywords: Epicardial and thoracic fat; clinical implications; coronary artery disease; noninvasive measurement.