Researchers from Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center say that having fat around the heart may even be worse than having a high body mass index.
In the August issue of Obesity, a study was done to find a link between pericardial fat (fat deposits around the heart) and hard, calcified plaque around the heart.
"The distribution of body fat may be as important as the amount of body fat in determining risk of heart attacks," said Jingzhong Ding, M.D., lead author and an assistant professor of gerontology. "Even a thin person can have fat around the heart."
Researchers examined data from another study (the Multi-ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis) and explored their idea that fat around the arteries in the heart contributes to inflammation as well as an increased risk of fatty deposits in the vessels. This study is based on the idea that excess fat around the heart and other organs may lessen their functions.
"Our findings suggest that local fat deposits, rather than total body fat, are most related to calcified coronary plaque," said Ding. "Inflammatory mediators released from pericardial fat may promote inflammation in local coronary arteries and lead to coronary atherosclerosis." He hopes to continue this research to learn more about the buildup of fat around the heart and what can be done to prevent it.
Source: Wake Forest via Eurekalert