Effects of age and aerobic fitness on myocardial lipid content

Satyam Sarma, Graeme Carrick-Ranson, Naoki Fujimoto, Beverley Adams-Huet, Paul S. Bhella, Jeffrey L. Hastings, Keri M. Shafer, Shigeki Shibata, Kara Boyd, Dean Palmer, Edward W. Szczepaniak, Lidia S. Szczepaniak, Benjamin D. Levine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background-Aging and sedentary lifestyles lead to cardiac atrophy, ventricular stiffening, and impaired diastolic function. Both conditions are marked by increased adiposity, which can lead to ectopic fat deposition in nonadipocyte tissues including the myocardium. The effect of excess intramyocardial fat on cardiac function in nonobese individuals is unknown. Methods and Results-Cardiac lipid content was measured by magnetic resonance spectroscopy in 153 healthy nonobese subjects with varying fitness levels quantified by peak oxygen uptake during treadmill exercise. Cardiac function (echo) and left ventricular (LV) filling pressures (right heart catheterization) were measured under varying preloads. LV stiffness was calculated from a curve fit of the diastolic portion of the pressure-volume curve. The strongest clinical predictors of lipid content were body mass index (β=+0.03; 95% confidence interval, 0.001-0.06) and peak oxygen uptake (β=-0.02; 95% confidence interval, -0.03 to -0.009; R2=0.14; P<0.001). Subjects in the highest quintile had smaller LV end-diastolic volumes (68±13 versus 58±12 mL/m2; P<0.01) and decreased peak early mitral annular and increased peak late mitral inflow velocities. There were no differences in LV stiffness, but a leftward shift in the pressure-volume curve suggested a less distensible ventricle with increasing myocardial lipid levels. After adjusting for age, fitness, and body mass index, echocardiographic and morphometric differences among groups were attenuated and no longer significant. Conclusions-Body mass index and fitness levels are the strongest predictors of myocardial lipid content in nonobese humans. Cardiac lipid content is associated with decreased ventricular distensibility, and it may provide a causal mechanism linking changes in LV function related to age and fitness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1048-1055
Number of pages8
JournalCirculation: Cardiovascular Imaging
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2013


  • Aging
  • Exercise
  • Ventricular remodeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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