Fat around the heart increases the risk of heart failure – healing practice

New risk factor for heart failure discovered

It has long been known that being very overweight increases the risk of heart failure. An American research team now suggests that the fatty deposits around the heart are primarily responsible for the increased risk.

Researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (USA) showed that fat deposits around the heart are a risk factor for heart failure. A high proportion of so-called epicardial fat doubled the risk of heart failure in women, and in men the risk increased by 50 percent. The research results were recently published in the “Journal of the American College of Cardiology” presented.

Largest study to date on the subject

It is the largest study to date to show the link between epicardial fat and heart failure. Early intervention that could lead to better prevention of heart disease can possibly be derived from the findings.

Looked up more closely

“For nearly two decades we’ve known that being severely overweight, based on simple measurements of height and weight, can double the risk of heart failure, but now we’ve gone a step further by using imaging tests to show that excess Pericardial fat, perhaps due to its location near the heart muscle, further increases the risk of this potentially fatal disease – heart failure, “reports Senior Cardiologist Professor Satish Kenchaiah.

“This work gives us an important tool to classify patients into a higher and lower risk of heart failure, which can potentially lead to early intervention and prevention of heart failure in order to ultimately save people’s lives,” emphasizes the doctor .

Course of the study

The researchers examined the relationship between pericardial fat and the risk of heart failure using CT scans of the chest in around 7,000 participants between the ages of 45 and 84 years. The subjects were observed over a period of more than 17 years. At the start of the study, it was ensured that none of the participants had any signs of heart disease.

In the course of the 17-year study period, almost 400 of the participants developed heart failure. Especially those who had excess fat built up around the heart were at increased risk, even when the researchers considered all known risk factors for heart failure, including

Heart fat as an independent risk factor for heart failure

Taking all risk factors into account, it emerged that a high volume of epicardial fat increases the risk of developing a Heart failure doubled in women and increased by 50 percent in men. The researchers defined a high volume of heart fat when women had more than 70 cubic centimeters of fat and men had more than 120 cubic centimeters of fat around the heart.

Heart fat correlates only weakly with the body mass index

In addition, the researchers found that the body mass index (BMI) can only give a weak to moderate indication of the presence of excessive pericardial fat. Excessive accumulation of fat around the heart did not only occur in obese participants, but also in slim and overweight test persons.

“Our research provides strong evidence that excess pericardial fat significantly increases the risk of heart failure,” said Dr. Kenchaiah. Further studies are needed to confirm the results. In the opinion of the working group, future research should also address the issue of whether interventions such as healthy eating or exercise can reduce or avoid fat deposits around the heart. (vb)

Author and source information

This text complies with the requirements of specialist medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical professionals.


Diploma-Editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai: Fat Around the Heart Linked to Increased Risk of Heart Failure (veröffentlicht: 24.05.2021), mountsinai.org
  • Satish Kenchaiah, Jingzhong Ding, J. Jeffrey Carr, et al.: Pericardial Fat and the Risk of Heart Failure; in: Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 2021, jacc.org

Important NOTE:
This article is for general guidance only and is not intended to be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. He can not substitute a visit at the doctor.


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