Background: Comparison of atherosclerosis and its risk factors among diverse populations may provide insights into the pathogenesis of the disease. We investigated differences in traditional coronary artery disease (CAD) risk factors and presence and quantity of coronary artery calcification (CAC), a marker of subclinical coronary atherosclerosis, between two diverse non-Hispanic white populations living in the US.
Methods and results: Members of the Old Order Amish (OOA), a unique culture with a physically active rural lifestyle who rarely use prescription medications, were compared to another non-Hispanic white population with a more typical US lifestyle, Epidemiology of Coronary Artery Calcification (ECAC), Study participants from Rochester, Minnesota. Although age- and sex-adjusted presence and quantity of CAC in those with detectable CAC were similar between study groups, there were significant differences in the distribution of many traditional CAD risk factors. OOA had significantly less abdominal adiposity and history of cigarette smoking but a less advantageous lipid profile than ECAC participants. Importantly, after adjusting for CAD risk factors, presence of CAC and quantity of CAC among those with detectable CAC were significantly higher among OOA than ECAC participants.
Conclusions: Identification of factors contributing to differences in subclinical disease across groups could increase our understanding of mechanisms for coronary atherosclerosis.