Women with Fat around the Heart Are Twice as Likely to Develop Heart Failure

Woman with protective mask suffocating due coronavirus holding chest sitting on a desk at nigh at homeAccording to a new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, women with fat around the heart are twice as likely to develop heart failure compared to women with little fat. Men with fat around the heart were found to be 50 percent more likely to develop the condition.

This is the largest study done to identify the relationship between pericardial fat and heart failure, which researchers hope can lead to early interventions and heart disease prevention. The association between fat and the risk of heart failure was examined by using chest computed tomography (CT) scans from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA).


To measure pericardial fat, the study used CT scans from nearly 7,000 women and men between the ages of 45 and 84 years across the United States with diverse racial backgrounds. When the study began, none of the participants had evidence of heart disease.

All participants in the study were followed for more than 17 years. It was noted that almost 400 of them developed heart failure and that excess pericardial fat was associated with the condition in both men and women. Adjustments were made for risk factors including age, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, high blood pressure, sedentary lifestyle, high cholesterol levels, high blood sugar, belly fat, and heart attacks.

After accounting for all risk factors, high pericardial fat volume increased the risk of developing heart failure by approximately 100 percent in women and about 50 percent in men. High pericardial fat volume was defined as 70 cubic centimeters or more in women and 120 cubic centimeters or more in men. Amounts below that were considered as “normal.”

Risk Factor

Researchers also found that pericardial fat was weakly or moderately associated with indicators of being overweight or obese such as body mass index, hip circumference, waist girth, and waist-to-hip ratio. They recorded that pericardial fat remained a risk factor for heart failure above and beyond the risk of being overweight or obese.

Lead researcher Satish Kenchaiah, MD., concluded the study saying, “For nearly two decades we have known that obesity, based on simple measurement of height and weight, can double one’s risk of heart failure, but now, we have gone a step further by using imaging technology to show that excess pericardial fat, perhaps due to its location close to the heart muscle, further augments the risk of this potentially fatal condition — heart failure. This work provides us with an important tool to stratify patients into higher and lower risk of heart failure, which can possibly lead to early intervention and heart failure prevention to ultimately save people’s lives.”

Author Bio

Sarah began her interest in nutritional healing at an early age. After going through health problems and becoming frustrated with the conventional ways doctors wanted to treat her illness (which were not working), she took it upon herself to find alternative treatments. This led her to revolutionize her own diet to help her get healthier and tackle her health problems. She began treating her illness by living a more balanced lifestyle through healthy food choices, exercise and other alternative medicine such as meditation. This total positive lifestyle change led her to earn a diploma in Nutritional Therapy from Health Sciences Academy in London, England. Today, Sarah enjoys helping others by teaching healthy lifestyle changes through her personal consultations and with her regular contributions to the Doctors Health Press. Also, passionate about following her dreams in life, Sarah moved to France and lived in Paris for over 5 years where she earned a certification in beadwork and embroidery from Lesage (an atelier owned by Chanel). She then went on to be a familiar face sitting front row and reporting from Paris Fashion Week. Sarah continues to practice some of the cultural ways of life she learned while in Europe. They enjoy their food, and take the time to relax and enjoy many of life’s little moments. These are life lessons she is glad to have brought back home with her.