Research Study Abstract

Physical activity, sedentary time, and pericardial fat in healthy older adults

  • Published on Oct. 2012

Abstract: Pericardial fat is emerging as a unique risk factor for coronary disease. We examined the relationship between objectively measured physical activity during free-living and pericardial fat. Participants were 446 healthy men and women (mean age = 66 ± 6 years), without history or objective signs of cardiovascular disease (CVD), drawn from the Whitehall II epidemiological cohort. Physical activity was objectively measured using accelerometers (Actigraph GT3X) worn around the hip during waking hours for 7 consecutive days (average daily wear time = 889 ± 68 min/day), and was classified as sedentary (<200 counts/min (cpm)), light (200-1,998 cpm), or moderate-vigorous physical activity (MVPA; ≥1,999 cpm). Pericardial fat volume was measured in each participant using electron beam computed tomography. Average daily cpm in men was 338.0 ± 145.0 and in women 303.8 ± 130.2. There was an inverse association between average cpm and pericardial fat (B = -0.070, 95% confidence interval (CI), -0.101, -0.040, P < 0.001), and this remained significant after adjusting for age, sex, registered wear time, BMI, lipids, glycemic control, blood pressure, smoking, statins, and social status. Both sedentary time (B = 0.081, 95% CI, 0.022, 0.14) and MVPA (B = -0.362, 95% CI, -0.527, -0.197) were also associated with pericardial fat, although associations for sedentary time did not remain significant after adjustment for MVPA. The inverse association between physical activity and pericardial fat was stronger among overweight and obese adults than in normal weight. Objectively assessed daily activity levels are related to pericardial fat in healthy participants, independently of BMI. This might be an important mechanism in explaining the association between physical activity and CVD prevention.