CT depicts racial differences in coronary artery disease

November 28, 2012

While obesity is considered a cardiovascular risk factor, a study presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) showed that African-American patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) have much less fat around their hearts compared to Caucasian patients.

"Prior evidence suggests that increased fat around the heart may be either an independent marker of CAD burden or a predictor of the future risk of acute coronary events," said U. Joseph Schoepf, M.D., professor of radiology and medicine and director of cardiovascular imaging at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, S.C. "You would think that African Americans, who have a higher prevalence of CAD, would have higher rates of thoracic fat in an setting. However, this was not the case. White patients had significantly higher thoracic fat volumes than African-American patients."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death for people of most ethnicities in the United States. In 2010, the age-adjusted prevalence of was 6.5 percent among African Americans, compared to 5.8 percent among Caucasians.

"We were very interested in finding an explanation for the racial difference in CAD and suspected differences in thoracic adipose tissue between races might be one of the contributing factors," said Paul Apfaltrer, M.D., from the Institute of and Nuclear Medicine, University Medical Center Mannheim, Heidelberg University, Germany.

For the study, researchers evaluated cardiac dual-source CT images of 411 age- and gender-matched African-American and , quantifying thoracic fat volumes, including epicardial adipose tissue (EAT)—body fat that is in direct contact with the heart—and mediastinal adipose tissue, which is body fat within the . Results showed that while the prevalence of significant stenosis, or narrowing of the coronary ducts, and plaque was similar in African-American and Caucasian patients, African-American patients had less fat around their hearts.

The findings, Drs. Schoepf and Apfaltrer say, are surprising, given the higher number of cardiac and metabolic disorders among African Americans despite presence of less fat in the chest cavity. The researchers suggest that EAT may actually act as a protective buffer, or that it may be related to plaque maturation including calcification, and could contribute to lower risk of acute coronary events.

"Understanding the mechanism behind the racial disparities we found may improve the prevention, risk stratification and management of CAD," Dr. Schoepf said.

Explore further: CT angiography improves detection of heart disease in African-Americans

Related Stories

CT angiography improves detection of heart disease in African-Americans

June 28, 2011
Researchers may have discovered one reason that African Americans are at increased risk for heart attacks and other cardiovascular events.

Epicardial fat tissue thickness predicts coronary artery disease

August 3, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Asymptomatic patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) have significantly more epicardial adipose tissue (EAT) than those without CAD, with an average EAT thickness of 2.4 mm or higher predictive of significant ...

Heart attack risk differs between men and women

November 30, 2011
Findings on coronary CT angiography (CTA), a noninvasive test to assess the coronary arteries for blockages, show different risk scenarios for men and women, according to a study presented today at the Radiological Society ...

Recommended for you

New discovery could reverse tissue damage caused by heart attacks

July 25, 2017
A new discovery by University of Bristol scientists helps to explain how cells which surround blood vessels, called pericytes, stimulate new blood vessels to grow with the hormone 'leptin' playing a key role. Leptin is produced ...

Could aggressive blood pressure treatments lead to kidney damage?

July 18, 2017
Aggressive combination treatments for high blood pressure that are intended to protect the kidneys may actually be damaging the organs, new research from the University of Virginia School of Medicine suggests.

Quantifying effectiveness of treatment for irregular heartbeat

July 17, 2017
In a small proof-of-concept study, researchers at Johns Hopkins report a complex mathematical method to measure electrical communications within the heart can successfully predict the effectiveness of catheter ablation, the ...

Concerns over side effects of statins stopping stroke survivors taking medication

July 17, 2017
Negative media coverage of the side effects associated with taking statins, and patients' own experiences of taking the drugs, are among the reasons cited by stroke survivors and their carers for stopping taking potentially ...

Study discovers anticoagulant drugs are being prescribed against safety advice

July 17, 2017
A study by researchers at the University of Birmingham has shown that GPs are prescribing anticoagulants to patients with an irregular heartbeat against official safety advice.

Protein may protect against heart attack

July 14, 2017
DDK3 could be used as a new therapy to stop the build-up of fatty material inside the arteries

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.