South Asians are known to have a high chance of developing cardiovascular disease and represent more than 60 percent of cardiovascular disease patients worldwide. They also develop risk factors such as high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes at a younger age than other racial and ethnic groups Specks of calcium in the heart’s artery walls could be an important prognostic marker of early cardiovascular disease in South Asians and may help guide treatment in this population, according to a recent study. (Kanaya AM Incidence and Progression of Coronary Artery Calcium in South Asians Compared With 4 Race/Ethnic Groups. J Am Heart Assoc. 2019; 8 :e011053. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.118.011053).
In a study of nearly 700 patients with ethnic backgrounds from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan, UCSF researchers found that South Asian men had the same high rates of change in calcification of their artery walls over a five-year period as white men, the group with the highest rates of cardiovascular disease.
“While South Asians have high cardiovascular disease rates, there are few prospective studies in the world that have focused on determining the risk factors,” said lead author Dr. Alka Kanaya, professor of medicine at UCSF. “The presence and change of coronary artery calcium may be useful for risk prediction in this ethnic population and may better guide the judicious use of statin and other preventive therapies.”
Early signs of coronary artery calcification (CAC) can be detected through a computed tomography (CT) scan. In other ethnic groups, high CAC scores have been proven to be an early sign of those at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
“Both CAC burden and progression have been shown to be independent predictors of coronary heart disease in whites, blacks, Latinos and Chinese Americans,” Kanaya said “.