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Little Racial Difference Seen in Atherosclerosis Rates

Tue Aug 31, 2004

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - African Americans and Caucasians in the general U.S. population have a similar prevalence of coronary atherosclerosis, according to new study findings. Most previous studies have suggested that the prevalence of atherosclerosis is lower in blacks, despite their significantly higher death rates from coronary heart disease.

In the current study, reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Texas cardiologists led by Dr. Tulika Jain from the Donald W. Reynolds Cardiovascular Clinical Research Center in Dallas used electron beam computed tomography to measure coronary calcium, an indicator of coronary atherosclerosis, in 1,289 participants in the Dallas Heart Study.

Analyzes included 761 black (380 women, 381 men) and 528 white (242 women, 286 men) individuals.

The investigators found that population estimates for coronary artery calcium levels were not statistically different between blacks and whites.

They also found that while the average scores for coronary risk factors were similar between the two racial groups, the prevalence of specific cardiovascular risk factors differed significantly by race and sex.

High blood pressure and diabetes, for example, were more common in blacks than in whites, regardless of sex, and black men were more likely to smoke than white men. Obesity was more common in black women than in white women, but whites tended to have worse cholesterol levels than blacks.

These differences in risk factors between whites and blacks may be responsible for the overall higher coronary mortality in blacks with atherosclerosis, the authors suggest.

SOURCE: Journal of the American College of Cardiology, September 1, 20004.


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