Background: Obesity and visceral adiposity are increasingly recognized risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Visceral fat may reduce myocardial perfusion by impairing vascular endothelial function. Women experience more anginal symptoms compared to men despite less severe coronary artery stenosis, as assessed by angiography. Women and men have different fat storage patterns which may account for the observed differences in cardiovascular disease. Therefore, our objective was to evaluate the relationship between visceral adipose tissue distributions and myocardial perfusion in men and women.
Methods: Visceral and subcutaneous fat distributions and myocardial perfusion were measured in 69 men and women without coronary artery disease using magnetic resonance imaging techniques. Myocardial perfusion index was quantified after first-pass perfusion with gadolinium contrast at peak dose dobutamine stress.
Results: We observed inverse relationships between female gender (r = -0.35, p = 0.003), pericardial fat (r = -0.36, p = 0.03), intraperitoneal fat (r = -0.37, p = 0.001), and retroperitoneal fat (r = -0.36, p = 0.002) and myocardial perfusion index. Visceral fat depots were not associated with reduced myocardial perfusion at peak dose dobutamine in men. However, in women, BMI (r = -0.33, p = 0.04), pericardial fat (r = -0.53, p = 0.02), subcutaneous fat (r = -0.39, p = 0.01) and intraperitoneal fat (r = -0.30, p = 0.05) were associated with reduced myocardial perfusion during dobutamine stress.
Conclusions: Higher visceral fat volumes are associated with reduced left ventricular myocardial perfusion at peak dose dobutamine stress in women but not in men. These findings suggest that visceral fat may contribute to abnormal microcirculatory coronary artery perfusion syndromes, explaining why some women exhibit more anginal symptoms despite typically lower grade epicardial coronary artery stenoses than men.