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Breakthrough in Study of Heart Disease among African Americans

October 17, 2011

Medical experts had known for a long time that people of African descent are at a greater risk of contracting heart disease than their Caucasian counterparts. It is commonly believed that this disparity results from factors such as societal pressure and diet. For example, one theory explains that African-Americans have a higher chance of suffering from hypertension because they are more affected by racial issues. However, a study conducted by researchers from the Medical University of South Carolina has shed new light on the development of heart disease in blacks.

African Americans heart diseaseAccording to the study, the higher risk of heart disease in African-Americans may have something to do with their inherent biological traits. Researchers discovered that a higher percentage of blacks have a specific type of plaque that is known to cause heart attacks. This non-calcified plaque can become deadly if it builds up in the arteries. The study showed that non-calcified plaque is present in 64% of African-American patients and only 41% of Caucasian patients. Additionally, it was found that the 41% of the white patients have calcified plaque, compared to just 26% of the black patients.

This discovery is a major breakthrough in the understanding of heart disease in blacks. For many years, medical experts had tried to search for an explanation for the higher rates of heart disease and cardiac deaths among African-Americans, and it is great news for the black community that they are making progress in their efforts. One of the reasons why it took such a long time for researchers to make this discovery is because medical research is largely geared towards the Caucasian body. Also, standard calcium exams are not designed to detect non-calcified plaque.