Background: Obesity is a well-established risk factor for heart failure (HF). However, implications of pericardial fat on incident HF is unclear.
Objectives: This study sought to examine the association between pericardial fat volume (PFV) and newly diagnosed HF.
Methods: This study ascertained PFV using cardiac computed tomography in 6,785 participants (3,584 women and 3,201 men) without pre-existing cardiovascular disease from the MESA (Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis). Cox proportional hazards regression was used to evaluate PFV as continuous and dichotomous variable, maximizing the J-statistic: (Sensitivity + Specificity - 1).
Results: In 90,686 person-years (median: 15.7 years; interquartile range: 11.7 to 16.5 years), 385 participants (5.7%; 164 women and 221 men) developed newly diagnosed HF. PFV was lower in women than in men (69 ± 33 cm3 vs. 92 ± 47 cm3; p < 0.001). In multivariable analyses, every 1-SD (42 cm3) increase in PFV was associated with a higher risk of HF in women (hazard ratio [HR]: 1.44; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.21 to 1.71; p < 0.001) than in men (HR: 1.13; 95% CI: 1.01 to 1.27; p = 0.03) (interaction p = 0.01). High PFV (≥70 cm3 in women; ≥120 cm3 in men) conferred a 2-fold greater risk of HF in women (HR: 2.06; 95% CI: 1.48 to 2.87; p < 0.001) and a 53% higher risk in men (HR: 1.53; 95% CI: 1.13 to 2.07; p = 0.006). In sex-stratified analyses, greater risk of HF remained robust with additional adjustment for anthropometric indicators of obesity (p ≤ 0.008), abdominal subcutaneous or visceral fat (p ≤ 0.03) or biomarkers of inflammation and hemodynamic stress (p < 0.001) and was similar among Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, and Chinese (interaction p = 0.24). Elevated PFV predominantly augmented the risk of HF with preserved ejection fraction (p < 0.001) rather than reduced ejection fraction (p = 0.31).
Conclusions: In this large, community-based, ethnically diverse, prospective cohort study, pericardial fat was associated with an increased risk of HF, particularly HF with preserved ejection fraction, in women and men.
Keywords: adipose tissue; adiposity; heart failure; obesity; pericardial fat.
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