Ethnic differences in coronary calcification: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA)

Diane E. Bild*, Robert Detrano, Do Peterson, Alan Guerci, Kiang Liu, Eyal Shahar, Pamela Ouyang, Sharon Jackson, Mohammed F. Saad

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

598 Scopus citations


Background - There is substantial evidence that coronary calcification, a marker for the presence and quantity of coronary atherosclerosis, is higher in US whites than blacks; however, there have been no large population-based studies comparing coronary calcification among US ethnic groups. Methods and Results - Using computed tomography, we measured coronary calcification in 6814 white, black, Hispanic, and Chinese men and women aged 45 to 84 years with no clinical cardiovascular disease who participated in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). The prevalence of coronary calcification (Agatston score >0) in these 4 ethnic groups was 70.4%, 52.1%, 56.5%, and 59.2%, respectively, in men (P<0.001) and 44.6%, 36.5%, 34.9%, and 41.9%, respectively, (P<0.001) in women. After adjustment for age, education, lipids, body mass index, smoking, diabetes, hypertension, treatment for hypercholesterolemia, gender, and scanning center, compared with whites, the relative risks for having coronary calcification were 0.78 (95% CI 0.74 to 0.82) in blacks, 0.85 (95% CI 0.79 to 0.91) in Hispanics, and 0.92 (95% CI 0.85 to 0.99) in Chinese. After similar adjustments, the amount of coronary calcification among those with an Agatston score >0 was greatest among whites, followed by Chinese (77% that of whites; 95% CI 62% to 96%), Hispanics (74%; 95% CI 61% to 90%), and blacks (69%; 95% CI 59% to 80%). Conclusions - We observed ethnic differences in the presence and quantity of coronary calcification that were not explained by coronary risk factors. Identification of the mechanism underlying these differences would further our understanding of the pathophysiology of coronary calcification and its clinical significance. Data on the predictive value of coronary calcium in different ethnic groups are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1313-1320
Number of pages8
Issue number10
StatePublished - Mar 15 2005


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Calcium
  • Coronary disease
  • Epidemiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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