Racial and Ethnic Differences in All-Cause and Cardiovascular Disease Mortality: The MESA Study

ARTICLE: Racial and Ethnic Differences in All-Cause and Cardiovascular Disease Mortality: The MESA Study

AUTHORS: Wendy S Post, Karol E Watson, Spencer Hansen, Aaron R Folsom, Moyses Szklo, Steven Shea, R Graham Barr, Gregory Burke, Alain G Bertoni, Norrina Allen, James S Pankow, Joao A C Lima, Jerome I Rotter, Joel D Kaufman, W Craig Johnson, Richard A Kronmal, Ana V Diez-Roux, Robyn L McClelland

JOURNAL: Circulation. 2022 Jul 19;146(3):229-239. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.122.059174. Epub 2022 Jul 18.


Background: Despite improvements in population health, marked racial and ethnic disparities in longevity and cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality persist. This study aimed to describe risks for all-cause and CVD mortality by race and ethnicity, before and after accounting for socioeconomic status (SES) and other factors, in the MESA study (Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis).

Methods: MESA recruited 6814 US adults, 45 to 84 years of age, free of clinical CVD at baseline, including Black, White, Hispanic, and Chinese individuals (2000-2002). Using Cox proportional hazards modeling with time-updated covariates, we evaluated the association of self-reported race and ethnicity with all-cause and adjudicated CVD mortality, with progressive adjustments for age and sex, SES (neighborhood SES, income, education, and health insurance), lifestyle and psychosocial risk factors, clinical risk factors, and immigration history.

Results: During a median of 15.8 years of follow-up, 22.8% of participants (n=1552) died, of which 5.3% (n=364) died of CVD. After adjusting for age and sex, Black participants had a 34% higher mortality hazard (hazard ratio [HR], 1.34 [95% CI, 1.19-1.51]), Chinese participants had a 21% lower mortality hazard (HR, 0.79 [95% CI, 0.66-0.95]), and there was no mortality difference in Hispanic participants (HR, 0.99 [95% CI, 0.86-1.14]) compared with White participants. After adjusting for SES, the mortality HR for Black participants compared with White participants was reduced (HR, 1.16 [95% CI, 1.01-1.34]) but still statistically significant. With adjustment for SES, the mortality hazards for Chinese and Hispanic participants also decreased in comparison with White participants. After further adjustment for additional risk factors and immigration history, Hispanic participants (HR, 0.77 [95% CI, 0.63-0.94]) had a lower mortality risk than White participants, and hazard ratios for Black participants (HR, 1.08 [95% CI, 0.92-1.26]) and Chinese participants (HR, 0.81 [95% CI, 0.60-1.08]) were not significantly different from those of White participants. Similar trends were seen for CVD mortality, although the age- and sex-adjusted HR for CVD mortality for Black participants compared with White participants was greater than all-cause mortality (HR, 1.72 [95% CI, 1.34-2.21] compared with HR, 1.34 [95% CI, 1.19-1.51]).

Conclusions: These results highlight persistent racial and ethnic differences in overall and CVD mortality, largely attributable to social determinants of health, and support the need to identify and act on systemic factors that shape differences in health across racial and ethnic groups.

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