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Eur Radiol. 2019 Jan;29(1):241-250. doi: 10.1007/s00330-018-5546-4. Epub 2018 Jun 14.

Ventricular Myocardial Fat: An Unexpected Biomarker for Long-term Survival?

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Department of Radiology, Montefiore Medical Center, 111 East 210th St, Bronx, NY, 10467, USA.
Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging, Yale University School of Medicine, 333 Cedar St., PO Box 208042, New Haven, CT, 06520, USA.
Department of Radiology, Montefiore Medical Center, 111 East 210th St, Bronx, NY, 10467, USA.
Department of Medicine, Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, NY, USA.
Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, NY, USA.



To examine the association between myocardial fat, a poorly understood finding frequently observed on non-contrast CT, and all-cause mortality in patients with and without a history of prior MI.


A retrospective cohort from a diverse urban academic center was derived from chronic myocardial infarction (MI) patients (n = 265) and three age-matched patients without MI (n = 690) who underwent non-contrast chest CT between 1 January 2005-31 December 2008. CT images were reviewed for left and right ventricular fat. Electronic records identified clinical variables. Kaplan-Meier and Cox proportional hazard analyses assessed the association between myocardial fat and all-cause mortality. The net reclassification improvement assessed the utility of adding myocardial fat to traditional risk prediction models.


Mortality was 40.1% for the no MI and 71.7% for the MI groups (median follow-up, 6.8 years; mean age, 73.7 ± 10.6 years). In the no MI group, 25.7% had LV and 49.9% RV fat. In the MI group, 32.8% had LV and 42.3% RV fat. LV and RV fat was highly associated (OR 5.3, p < 0.001). Ventricular fat was not associated with cardiovascular risk factors. Myocardial fat was associated with a reduction in the adjusted hazard of death for both the no MI (25%, p = 0.04) and the MI group (31%, p = 0.018). Myocardial fat resulted in the correct reclassification of 22% for the no MI group versus the Charlson score or calcium score (p = 0.004) and 47% for the MI group versus the Charlson score (p = 0.0006).


Patients with myocardial fat have better survival, regardless of MI status, suggesting that myocardial fat is a beneficial biomarker and may improve risk stratification.


• Myocardial fat is commonly found on chest CT, yet is poorly understood • Myocardial fat is associated with better survival in patients with and without prior MI and is not associated with traditional cardiovascular risk factors • This finding may provide clinically meaningful prognostic value in the risk stratification of patients.


Biomarkers; Myocardium; Outcomes research; Risk assessment; Tomography, x-ray computed

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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