Background: Pericardial fat has a higher secretion of inflammatory cytokines than subcutaneous fat. Cytokines released from pericardial fat around coronary arteries may act locally on the adjacent cells.
Objective: We examined the relationship between pericardial fat and calcified coronary plaque.
Methods and Procedures: Participants in the community-based Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) underwent a computed tomography (CT) scan for the assessment of calcified coronary plaque in 2000/2002. We measured the volume of pericardial fat using these scans in 159 whites and blacks without symptomatic coronary heart disease from Forsyth County, NC, aged 55–74 years.
Results: Calcified coronary plaque was observed in 91 participants (57%). After adjusting for height, a 1 s.d. increment in pericardial fat was associated with an increased odds of calcified coronary plaque (odds ratio (95% confidence interval): 1.92 (1.27, 2.90)). With further adjustment of other cardiovascular factors, pericardial fat was still significantly associated with calcified coronary plaque. This relationship did not differ by gender and ethnicity. On the other hand, BMI and height-adjusted waist circumference were not associated with calcified coronary plaque.
Discussion: Pericardial fat is independently associated with calcified coronary plaque.