Objectives: South Asians (individuals from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka) have high rates of cardiovascular disease which cannot be explained by traditional risk factors. Few studies have examined coronary artery calcium (CAC) in South Asians.
Methods: We created a community-based cohort of South Asians in the United States and compared the prevalence and distribution of CAC to four racial/ethnic groups in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). We compared 803 asymptomatic South Asians free of cardiovascular disease to the four MESA racial/ethnic groups (2622 Whites, 1893 African Americans, 1496 Latinos and 803 Chinese Americans).
Results: The age-adjusted prevalence of any CAC was similar between White and South Asian men, but was lower in South Asian women compared to White women. After adjusting for all covariates associated with CAC, South Asian men were similar to White men and had higher CAC scores compared to African Americans, Latinos and Chinese Americans. In fully adjusted models, CAC scores were similar for South Asian women compared to all women enrolled in MESA. However, South Asian women ≥70 years had a higher prevalence of any CAC than most other racial/ethnic groups.
Conclusions: South Asian men have similarly high CAC burden as White men, but higher CAC than other racial/ethnic groups. South Asian women appear to have similar CAC burden compared to other women, but have somewhat higher CAC burden in older age. The high burden of subclinical coronary atherosclerosis in South Asians may partly explain higher rates of cardiovascular disease in South Asians.
Keywords: Coronary artery calcium; Ethnic differences; South Asians; Subclinical atherosclerosis.
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