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Differential heart-attack risks among blacks, whites remain mystery

entists looked at the records of 1,288 subjects over the age of 40 -- 380 black women and 241 white women over 45; and 381 black men and 286 white men over 40 -- whose coronary calcium levels had been determined via electron beam computer tomography and whose Lp(a) levels were determined via blood tests.

The study was designed to test one of the leading theories that aim to explain why increased levels of Lp(a) in the bloodstream lead to different risk factors for whites and African-Americans.

That theory is based on earlier lab studies that showed Lp(a) had a tendency to stick to some of the tissues that line blood-vessel walls. Some researchers believe the adhesive property causes a chain reaction in which first LDL cholesterol and then calcium builds up on the inner walls of blood vessels. Although African-Americans typically have two to four times the amount of Lp(a) in their blood as whites, the Lp(a) proteins in whites tend to be shorter and stickier than the Lp(a) in African-Americans.

"We found no evidence to support a relationship between the protein's size and related levels of atherosclerosis in any of the groups we studied," said Guerra.


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Contact: Jade Boyd
jadeboyd@rice.edu
713-348-6778
Rice University
5-Apr-2005


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