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African-Americans Have More Noncalcified Plaque

But white patients have higher prevalence of calcified plaque than African-Americans

WEDNESDAY, June 29 (HealthDay News) -- African-Americans tend to have more noncalcified atherosclerotic plaque, while whites tend to have more calcified plaque, according to a study published online June 1 in Radiology.

John W. Nance Jr., M.D., from the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, and colleagues compared the prevalence, extent, and composition of coronary atherosclerotic lesions in African-American and white patients with acute chest pain, using coronary computed tomographic (CT) angiography. The presence of atherosclerotic plaque, plaque composition (calcified, noncalcified, or mixed), and stenosis was assessed in each coronary artery segment of 301 patients (150 African-American and 151 white control patients) with acute chest pain and with an average age of 55 years.

The investigators found that there was a significantly higher prevalence (64 versus 41 percent) and median volume (2.2 versus 1.4 mL) of noncalcified plaque in African-American patients than white patients, independent of diabetes and other cardiovascular factors (odds ratio, 2.45). However, a lower prevalence of calcified plaque was seen in African-American patients than white patients (26 versus 45 percent). There was no significant difference seen in the presence of plaque or stenosis between the two groups.

"[These] study results suggest that atherosclerotic plaque burden and composition, as measured by using coronary CT angiography, differ between African-American and white patients, with relatively more noncalcified disease in African-Americans and more calcified disease in white individuals. Further research is warranted to determine whether CT plaque characterization can improve cardiac risk prediction in African-Americans," the authors write.

Several of the study authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical, medical imaging, medical device, and health care industries.

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