Aims/hypothesis: We examined prospectively whether measured risk factors can explain the higher CHD mortality in South Asians compared with Europeans.
Materials and methods: Conventional CHD risk factors and those associated with insulin resistance were measured in 1,787 European and 1,420 South Asian men aged 40 to 69 years at baseline in the population-based Southall and Brent studies (London) between 1988 and 1990. Participants were followed up for mortality.
Results: By February 2006, there were 202 CHD deaths (108 Asian, 94 European). South Asian men had double the CHD mortality of European men in Cox regression analyses adjusted for age, smoking, and cholesterol (hazard ratio [HR] 2.14, 95% CI 1.56-2.94, p<0.001). Nearly half of all South Asian CHD deaths versus 13% of deaths among Europeans were among persons with diabetes. Asian men had greater CHD mortality than Europeans, both in the with- and the without-diabetes categories at baseline. CHD mortality remained significantly higher in South Asian men in multivariable models that adjusted for conventional risk factors and diabetes and/or impaired glucose regulation, features of insulin resistance, or the metabolic syndrome (HR 1.6-1.9). Accounting for co-morbidity and socio-economic status did not materially alter the findings.
Conclusions/interpretation: These data confirm that South Asian men have significantly higher CHD mortality than their European counterparts, while indicating that neither conventional risk factors, nor insulin resistance parameters or metabolic syndrome criteria as currently defined can account for this excess risk. The contribution of unmeasured factors to the elevated vascular risk in South Asians should be addressed in future studies.