African American men with heart disease in worse shape than white counterparts

November 20, 2002

CHICAGO (November 20, 2002) - A recent study has revealed that African American men who suffer from coronary artery disease, or CAD, have much worse capacity for exercise than their white counterparts, according to researchers at the Ochsner Clinic Foundation in New Orleans.

Several studies of patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) have indicated that exercise capacity is a strong predictor of subsequent prognosis. However, there are few studies to date assessing exercise capacity in adult African American patients or assessing impact of race on levels of fitness, according to Ochsner Clinic cardiologist and lead investigator, Carl Lavie, MD, Medical Co-Director, Cardiac Rehabilitation and Prevention Director.

"African Americans as a group also present with more advanced heart failure, have a more rapid decline over time and worse survival than their white counterparts," stated Dr. Mandeep Mehra, cardiologist and Vice Chairman of Ochsner's Heart and Vascular Institute. In addition, Mehra stated "selection bias did not enter the findings, but more likely relates to the time of "inception" or "entry' into the system for advanced health care."

Ochsner Clinic researchers studied 5069 consecutive patients referred for exercise stress testing, and compared levels of fitness in 641 African Americans (52% male) with 4428 Caucasians (73% male), and performed a multivariate analysis of predictors of exercise capacity to determine if race was an independent predictor of fitness.

"We also found that African American race was an independent risk factor, although weak, for poor exercise capacity," stated Lavie.

In conclusion, compared with African American men, Caucasian men were found to have significantly higher exercise capacity. "In an adult population being evaluated for CAD, African Americans are more obese and, contrary to popular belief, have significantly lower exercise capacity than their Caucasian counterparts," states Lavie. Emphasis on weight reduction and increased physical fitness is particularly important for the prevention of cardiovascular disease in African Americans.
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About Ochsner Clinic Foundation
A research and teaching hospital, the Ochsner Clinic Foundation (www.ochsner.org) in New Orleans has over 500 physicians on staff in over 70 medical specialties and sub-specialties. Ochsner Clinic Foundation is also a leader in medical research with approximately 500 ongoing research trials/year and nearly 250 annual publications in medical literature.

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