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Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas

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Risk Factor for Cardiovascular Disease in African-Americans

April 11, 2011

Lacy and Morehead

“The current cholesterol treatment guidelines do not consider this type of cholesterol to be associated with heart disease and strokes in African-Americans despite higher levels of this particular type of cholesterol in African Americans compared with Caucasians,” said Salim S. Virani, M.D., a staff cardiologist at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center. Army Veterans Basil Morehead (left) and Billy Lacy, both regular participants in the annual Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Golden Age Games, discuss the importance of this recent study.
PHOTO: Bobbi Gruner, PAO

HOUSTON – Elevated levels of a type of cholesterol known as Lipoprotein(a) should be considered linked with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease in African-Americans, as reported by a physician from the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center at the American Heart Association, Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention 2011 Scientific Sessions in Atlanta.

“The current cholesterol treatment guidelines do not consider this type of cholesterol to be associated with heart disease and strokes in African-Americans despite higher levels of this particular type of cholesterol in African Americans compared with Caucasians,” said Salim S. Virani, M.D., a staff cardiologist at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center and an investigator at the Houston VA Health Services Research and Development Center of Excellence. “It is because there has not been enough representation of the African-American community in research studies to show otherwise.”

At the conference, Virani was recognized for his research into this topic with the Scott Grundy Award for Excellence in Metabolism Research for a Junior Investigator.

Virani and his colleagues studied participants who were already taking part in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study, a large-scale bi-racial study designed to investigate the etiology and natural history of atherosclerosis.

“The ARIC study has a diverse group of participants who have been followed for the past 20 years,” said Virani who is also an assistant professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. “We were able to see that indeed this type of cholesterol is associated with a higher risk of heart disease and stroke in African-Americans and the magnitude of risk associated with Lipoprotein(a) was at least as strong as in Caucasians”
           
Other health care professionals who contributed to the study include Ariel Brautbar, Vijay Nambi, Ron C. Hoogeveen, Joel D. Morrisett, and Christie M. Ballantyne, all of Baylor College of Medicine; Brian C. Davis and Eric Boerwinkle both of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston;  Richey Sharrett and Josef Coresh from Johns Hopkins University; Thomas H. Mosley, University of Mississippi Medical Center; Diane J. Catellier, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and Aaron R. Folsom, University of Minnesota School of Public Health.

The ARIC study is supported by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Virani is supported by a Department of Veteran Affairs Health Services Research and Development Services Career Development Award.

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