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Calcium Plaque Build-up in the Arteries Leads to Coronary Heart,Disease in Multi-Ethnic Groups

BETHESDA, Md., March 26, 2007--Having a build-up of calcium plaque in the arteries means increased risk of heart attacks and death from heart disease in multiple ethnic groups, according to new findings from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health. Previous studies have shown that increased coronary artery calcium is linked to greater risk of heart disease events and deaths in Caucasians. This study shows that this is true in other ethnic groups — blacks, Hispanics and Chinese — even though the amount of calcium build-up in these populations is low relative to Caucasians.

MESA evaluated 6,814 men and women with no prior heart disease for coronary calcium using CT scanning, and followed them for an average of 3.5 years.

"Coronary Artery Calcium as a Predictor of Near-Term Coronary Heart Disease Events in Major American Ethnic Groups," will be presented on March 26, 2007, at 9 a.m. at the Annual Scientific Session of the American College of Cardiology, held in New Orleans.

Diane Bild, M.D., M.P.H., study co-author and acting deputy director of the NHLBIs Division of Prevention and Population Studies, is available for comment. To schedule interviews, contact the NHLBI Communications Office at 301-496-4236.

Link to more information on coronary plaque and heart disease risk:

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) plans, conducts, and supports research related to the causes, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of heart, blood vessel, lung, and blood diseases; and sleep disorders. The Institute also administers national health education campaigns on women and heart disease, healthy weight for children, and other topics. NHLBI press releases and other materials are available online at:

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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