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NHLBI Media Availability: Calcium Plaque Build-up in the Arteries Leads to Coronary Heart Disease in Multi-Ethnic Groups

Embargoed for Release:
March 26, 2007, 9:12 AM EDT

Having a build-up of calcium plaque in the arteries means increased risk of heart attacks and death from heart disease in multiple ethnic groups, according to new findings from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health. Previous studies have shown that increased coronary artery calcium is linked to greater risk of heart disease events and deaths in Caucasians. This study shows that this is true in other ethnic groups—blacks, Hispanics and Chinese—even though the amount of calcium build-up in these populations is low relative to Caucasians.

MESA evaluated 6,814 men and women with no prior heart disease for coronary calcium using CT scanning, and followed them for an average of 3.5 years.

"Coronary Artery Calcium as a Predictor of Near-Term Coronary Heart Disease Events in Major American Ethnic Groups," will be presented on March 26, 2007, at 9 a.m. at the Annual Scientific Session of the American College of Cardiology, held in New Orleans.

Diane Bild, M.D., M.P.H., study co-author and acting deputy director of the NHLBI's Division of Prevention and Population Studies, is available for comment. To schedule interviews, contact the NHLBI Communications Office at 301-496-4236.