Increased epicardial adipose tissue (EAT) may be closely associated with the development of metabolic abnormalities. We investigated whether EAT predicts the incident metabolic syndrome in a community-based, middle-aged population. The study subjects were comprised of 354 adults (134 men and 220 women) aged 40 to 70 yr without metabolic syndrome. Baseline EAT thickness, measured by echocardiography, was compared between subjects who developed new-onset metabolic syndrome at follow-up survey and those who did not. After an average of 2.2 yr of follow-up, 32 men (23.9%) and 37 women (16.8%) developed metabolic syndrome. Median EAT thickness at baseline was significantly higher in male subjects who developed metabolic syndrome than those who did not (1.52 mm vs 2.37 mm, P<0.001). The highest quartile of EAT thickness (≥2.55 mm) was associated with increased risk of progression to metabolic syndrome (Odds ratio [OR], 3.09; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.11-8.66) after adjustment for age, smoking, alcohol intake, regular exercise, total energy intake, high sensitive C-reactive protein and homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance in men. A significant association of EAT with incident metabolic syndrome was not seen in women (OR, 1.25; 95% CI, 0.54-2.90). In conclusion, increased EAT thickness is an independent predictor for incident metabolic syndrome in men.
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