Heart scans know no race

The New England Journal of Medicine just published a new analysis of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) database authored by Dr. Robert Detrano of University of California-Irvine.

As we would expect, the study confirmed the ability of heart scans and coronary calcium scoring to predict heart attack. This study is unique, hovever, in including Hispanics, Chinese Americans, and African Americans in its 6722 participants.

The analysis confirmed that coronary calcium scores yielded similar information, regardless of race. It confirmed that people with a zero heart scan score had a nearly zero risk of cardiovascular events; it also confirmed that higher scores (e.g., >300) yielded much greater risk over the 4 years of observation: 7.73-fold greater risk for people with scores 101-300; 9.67-fold greater for scores >300.

One of the media reports on the study can be viewed on HeartWire

Bill Sardi's Knowledge of Health website and blog also has an insightful commentary.

To those of us who have used heart scans in thousands of people, the MESA results come as no surprise, having seen these phenomena played out every day in real life. Although similar results have been previously shown in a number of other smaller studies, Detrano's analysis of MESA does serve to further validate these concepts. It also serves to deliver the message more broadly into the mainstream media message.

No surprise whatsoever: Coronary calcium scores obtained through heart scans represent a measure of the disease--coronary atherosclerosis--itself. It is not a risk factor that may or may not be associated with development of coronary atherosclerosis. Thus, when heart scan scores are held up in comparison the cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, c-reactive protein, or any other risk measure, heart scan scores outshine all these measures by enormous margins as predictors of your future.

Want to know what your uncorrected heart disease future could be? Consult your heart scan score. Not your cholesterol panel.

Copyright 2008 William Davis, MD