Epicardial adipose tissue: far more than a fat depot
Epicardial adipose tissue (EAT) refers to the fat depot that exists on the surface of the myocardium and is contained entirely beneath the pericardium, thus surrounding and in direct contact with the major coronary arteries and their branches. EAT is a biologically active organ that may play a role in the association between obesity and coronary artery disease (CAD). Given recent advances in non-invasive imaging modalities such a multidetector computed tomography (MDCT), EAT can be accurately measured and quantified. In this review, we focus on the evidence suggesting a role for EAT as a quantifiable risk marker in CAD, as well as describe the role EAT may play in the development and vulnerability of coronary artery plaque.