New Delhi: Specks of calcium on coronary arteries might be early warning signs for impending heart disease in South Asian men and could help guide prevention and treatment strategies, medical researchers said in a study released last week. The study has found that coronary artery calcification (CAC) rates in South Asian men are similar to those of Caucasians with the highest rates of cardiovascular disease, but 122 per cent higher than those of African Americans and 54 per cent higher than those of Chinese Americans.
The findings, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, suggest that CAC, which can be detected and measured through computerised tomography (CT) scans, could be used as predictive markers for heart disease. “The presence and change of coronary artery calcium may be useful for risk prediction in this ethnic population and may guide judicious use of statins and other preventive therapies,” Alka Kanaya, professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, said in a media release.
The study by Kanaya and her colleagues, called MASALA (Mediators of Atherosclerosis in South Asians Living in America), is the first to show changes in CAC in a group of South Asians over time. The researchers say the next phase of the study will seek to determine if the CAC burden or its progression can actually predict those at highest risk of having a heart attack.
Since the study began in 2010, it has enrolled more than 1,100 South Asian immigrants from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan living in and around San Francisco and Chicago. “MASALA is filling knowledge gaps about cardiovascular disease in South Asians,” said Namratha Kandula, a co-investigator and associate professor of medicine and preventive medicine at Northwestern University in the US.