Although coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of death and morbidity in older African Americans, relatively little is known about the incidence and predictors of CHD in this population. This study was undertaken to determine the incidence and predictors of CHD in African-American men and women aged 65 years and older. The participants in this study included a total of 924 African-American men and women aged 65 years of age and older who participated in the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS). The overall CHD incidence was 26.6 per 1,000 person-years of risk. Rates were higher in men than women (35.3 vs. 21.6) and in those 75 years or older than in those less than 75 years (31.3 vs. 24.5). In multivariate analysis, factors associated with higher risk of incident disease were male gender [relative risk (RR) = 1.8, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.1, 2.7], diabetes mellitus (RR = 1.9, 95% CI = 1.2, 2.9), total cholesterol (RR for 40 mg/dL increment = 1.3, 95% CI = 1.0, 1.5), and low (i.e., <0.9) ankle-arm index (RR = 2.1, 95% CI = 1.3, 3.4) after adjusting for age. Within this cohort of older African Americans, male gender, diabetes mellitus, total cholesterol, and low ankle-arm index and were independently predictive of incident events. These results suggest that the ankle-arm index, a measure of advanced atherosclerosis, should be further evaluated for its efficacy in identifying older African Americans at risk for incident clinical events.
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