Coronary artery calcification across ethnic groups in Singapore

Pow Li Chia, Arul Earnest, Raymond Lee, Jamie Lim, Chun Pong Wong, Yew Woon Chia, James Y S Weng, Anuradha Negi, Priyanka Khatri, David Foo

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Introduction: In Singapore, the age-standardised event rates of myocardial infarction (MI) are 2- and 3-fold higher for Malays and Indians respectively compared to the Chinese. The objectives of this study were to determine the prevalence and quantity of coronary artery calcification (CAC) and non-calcified plaques across these3 ethnic groups. Materials and Methods: This was a retrospective descriptive study. We identified 1041 patients (810 Chinese, 139 Malays, 92 Indians) without previous history of cardiovascular disease who underwent cardiac computed tomography for atypical chest pain evaluation. A cardiologist, who was blinded to the patients' clinical demographics, reviewed all scans. We retrospectively analysed all their case records. Results: Overall, Malays were most likely to be active smokers (P = 0.02), Indians had the highest prevalence of diabetes mellitus (P = 0.01) and Chinese had the highest mean age (P <0.0001). The overall prevalence of patients with non-calcified plaques as the only manifestation of sub-clinical coronary artery disease was 2.1%. There was no significant difference in the prevalence of CAC, mean CAC score or prevalence of non-calcified plaques among the 3 ethnic groups. Active smoking, age and hypertension were independent predictors of CAC. Non-calcified plaques were positively associated with male gender, age, dyslipidaemia and diabetes mellitus. Conclusion: The higher MI rates in Malays and Indians in Singapore cannot be explained by any difference in CAC or non-calcified plaque. More research with prospective follow-up of larger patient populations is necessary to establish if ethnic-specific calibration of CAC measures is needed to adjust for differences among ethnic groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)432-436
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of the Academy of Medicine Singapore
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Coronary artery disease
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Race

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