Frequency of Massive Cardiac Adiposity (Floating Heart) at Necropsy and Comparison of Clinical and Morphologic Variables With Cases With Nonmassive Cardiac Adiposity at a Single Texas Hospital, 2013 to 2014

Published:December 31, 2015DOI:
      Body weight continues to increase worldwide primarily because of the increase in body fat. This study analyzes the frequency of massive adiposity at autopsy determined by the ability of the heart to float in a container of 10% formaldehyde (because adipose tissue is lighter than myocardium) and compares certain findings in the patients with floating to those with nonfloating hearts. The hearts studied at necropsy during a 2-year period (2013 to 2014) at Baylor University Medical Center were carefully “cleaned” and weighed by the same person and tested as to their ability to float in a container of formaldehyde, an indication of severe cardiac adiposity. Of the 146 hearts studied, 76 (52%) floated in a container of formaldehyde and 70 (48%) did not. Comparison of the 76 patients with floating hearts with the 70 with nonfloating hearts showed significant differences in ages (62 ± 13 vs 58 ± 14 years). No significant differences between the 2 groups were found in gender, body mass index, frequency of systemic hypertension or diabetes mellitus, either acute or healed myocardial infarction, or whether death was due to a coronary or a noncoronary condition. A weak correlation was found between body mass index and heart weight in both men and women and in both floating and nonfloating hearts. The massive quantity of cardiac adipose tissue (floating heart) appears to have increased enormously in recent decades in the United States.
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