Fatty degeneration of the heart is a retrogressive condition in which fat droplets are found in the myocardial sarcoplasm. It is usually secondary to such conditions as myocarditis, pericarditis, coronary arteriosclerosis, myocardial insufficiency, starvation, anemia, fever, phosphorus or arsenic poisoning, diphtheria, scarlet fever, typhoid fever and various other diseases but has been noted to occur without any demonstrable cause.1 The condition is common, especially in minor degrees.
Concerning the functional significance of fatty degeneration of the heart there is no unanimity of opinion. Lewis2 stated: "Fatty heart should not be diagnosed.... In severe diphtheria the cardiac muscle may be so degenerate with fatty particles that it is throughout of a pure yellow colour, yet the heart continues beating. Because diffuse fatty degeneration occurs in the senile heart, or in coronary artery disease, that is no reason for regarding fat in the heart as a cause of sudden death.
GARVIN CF. FATTY DEGENERATION OF THE HEART CAUSING MYOCARDIAL INSUFFICIENCY: REPORT OF A CASE. Arch Intern Med (Chic). 1940;66(3):603–606. doi:10.1001/archinte.1940.00190150074005
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