Obesity, Cardiovascular Pathology and Sudden Unexpected Death

Marja‐Leena Kortelainen, M.D., Ph.D., professor in Forensic medicine, University of Oulu
Other researchers:

Katja Porvari, Ph.D., docent, laboratory manager

Helena Kaija, Ph.D

Lasse Pakanen, M.D., Ph.D

Central type of fat accumulation is practically always present in young victims of sudden cardiac death
caused by coronary atherosclerotic lesions. Morbidly obese people with BMI > 40 kg/m² are also at risk of
sudden death, but autopsy studies have shown that a large number of them seem to be relatively resistant
to atherosclerosis. In this group sudden death is often related to cardiac hypertrophy, which may be
accompanied by several mechanisms leading to fatal outcome even among the youngest extremely obese
Early atherosclerotic lesions and their precursors and clinically silent lesions can be studied in detail only in
autopsy material. The research is focused on the association of the early stages of atherogenesis in human
coronary arteries with body fat distribution and the inflammatory process in the pericoronary and visceral
fat, and on mechanisms of sudden death in severely obese young individuals.

Selected publications:
Kortelainen M‐L, Porvari K. Adventitial macrophage and lymphocyte accumulation accompanying early
stages of human coronary atherogenesis. Cardiovasc Pathol 2014;23(4):93‐97.
Kortelainen M‐L, Porvari K. Extreme obesity and associated cardiovascular disease verified at autopsy. Time
trends over 3 decades. Am J Forensic Med Pathol 2011;32(4):372
Kunnas T, Lahtio R, Kortelainen M‐L, Kalela A, Nikkari ST. Gln27Glu variant of Beta2‐adrenoceptor gene
affects male type fat accumulation on women. Lipids Health Dis 2009;8:43
Kortelainen M‐L, Huttunen P. Expression of estrogen receptors in the coronary arteries of young and
premenopausal women in relation to central obesity. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 2004;28(4):623
Kortelainen M‐L. Myocardial infarction and coronary pathology in severely obese people examined at
autopsy. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 2002;26(1):73
Kortelainen M‐L, Särkioja T. Visceral fat and coronary pathology in male adolescents. Int J Obes Relat Metab

Last updated: 9.9.2016