Coronary heart disease risk factors, coronary artery calcification and epicardial fat volume in the Young Finns Study

Eur Heart J Cardiovasc Imaging. 2015 Nov;16(11):1256-63. doi: 10.1093/ehjci/jev085. Epub 2015 Apr 20.


Aims: We investigated associations of pre-clinical coronary heart disease (CHD), adolescence and adulthood CHD risk factors, and epicardial fat volume (EFV), which is thought to influence CHD pathology.

Methods and results: EFV and coronary calcium scores were quantified using computed tomography imaging for 557 subjects from the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study in 2007. CHD risk marker levels were assessed repeatedly from 1980 to 2007. Carotid intima-media thickness (cIMT), carotid distensibility, and brachial flow-mediated dilatation were measured by vascular ultrasound in 2007. Increased EFV was cross-sectionally associated with male sex, increased waist circumference, body-mass index (BMI), cIMT, metabolic syndrome prevalence, levels of apolipoprotein B, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, C-reactive protein, blood pressure, insulin, and fasting glucose, as well as ever smoking, alcoholic intake, and lower high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), carotid distensibility and physical activity in adulthood. In BMI-adjusted analyses, only apolipoprotein B, ever smoking, alcohol intake and metabolic syndrome prevalence were independently associated with EFV. In adolescence, skinfold thickness, BMI, and insulin levels were higher and HDL-C lower with increasing EFV. Subjects in the lowest vs. highest quarter of EFV had consistently lower BMI across the early life-course.

Conclusion: Associations of CHD risk markers with EFV were attenuated after multivariable adjustment. We found no evidence of increased EFV being independently associated with pre-clinical atherosclerosis. EFV was most strongly associated with BMI and waist circumference. Subjects with higher EFV had consistently higher BMI from age 12 suggesting that life-long exposure to higher BMI influences the development of EFV.

Keywords: Atherosclerosis; Coronary artery calcium; Epicardial fat; Risk factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / diagnostic imaging*
  • Adolescent
  • Anthropometry
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Blood Flow Velocity / physiology
  • Brachial Artery / diagnostic imaging
  • Carotid Intima-Media Thickness
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Coronary Disease / diagnostic imaging*
  • Coronary Disease / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pericardium / diagnostic imaging*
  • Risk Factors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Vascular Calcification / diagnostic imaging*
  • Vascular Calcification / epidemiology


  • Biomarkers