Background and objective: Substitution of interstitial tissue by fat may be observed in the right ventricle of hearts but is less common in the left ventricle. Fat was noted in myocardial scars of patients undergoing heart transplantation, prompting this retrospective study to determine the frequency of left ventricular myocardial scar being replaced by fat and its significance
Methods and results: The left and right ventricles and coronary arteries were sampled systematically and lesions quantified histologically in 97 normal subjects dying accidentally; 116 consecutive failing hearts excised at transplantation from patients with ischemic heart disease, idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy or chronic valvulopathy; and 34 autopsy hearts of apparently normal subjects with "silent' Chagas' heart disease who died suddenly and unexpectedly. Twenty-two left ventricular aneurysmectomy specimens from ischemic patients with heart failure were also studied. Among excised hearts lipomatous metaplasia of myocardial scar was observed in 68% of ischemic heart disease, in 37% of chronic valvulopathy and in 26% of idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy patients; it was seen in 15% of Chagasic patients and in 55% of aneurysm walls.
Conclusions: Lipomatous metaplasia of scar is often associated with severe heart failure and is more frequent and extensive in ischemic heart disease. Transformation of a compact scar into compressible and "sliding' adipose tissue may worsen ventricular wall function, thus facilitating and/or aggravating aneurysm formation. This phenomenon must be considered in the evaluation of myocardial repair, cardiac imaging of viable myocardium, quantitative morphology of autopsy specimens, and qualitative and quantitative biochemical analysis of myocardial tissue.