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

Anna S. Bader, Jeffrey M. Levsky, Benjamin A. Zalta, Anna Shmukler, Arash Gohari, Vineet R. Jain, Victoria Chernyak, Michael Lovihayeem, Eran Y. Bellin, Linda B. Haramati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Purpose: 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. Materials and methods: 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. Results: 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). Conclusions: Patients with myocardial fat have better survival, regardless of MI status, suggesting that myocardial fat is a beneficial biomarker and may improve risk stratification. Key Points: • 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-250
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Radiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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