Accruing evidence supports the hypothesis that psychosocial factors are related to cardiovascular disease. However, a limited number of studies have investigated the pathophysiologic pathways through which these associations occur. The purpose of this study was to assess whether experiences of self-reported racial discrimination and reactions to unfair treatment were associated with coronary artery calcification (CAC), an indicator of subclinical coronary heart disease (CHD).
This cross-sectional study recruited 571 subjects (45 years and older) who were asymptomatic of CHD from Fort Worth, Texas from 2006 to 2008. Subjects completed a questionnaire, a multi-slice computed tomography scan to assess for CAC presence (measured as Agatston score >0), and serum chemistries. Logistic regression was used to estimate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for the association between self-reported discrimination and CAC. Results were stratified by response to unfair treatment as it was found to significantly modify the relationship between discrimination and CAC.
Among those who passively responded to unfair treatment, the odds of having CAC present were approximately 3 times higher for those experiencing discrimination (OR, 2.95; 95% CI, 1.19-7.32) after adjusting for age, gender, race/ethnicity, education, body mass index, hyperlipidemia, smoking status, hypertension, diabetes, and first degree relative with heart disease.
This is the first multi-racial/ethnic study to find racial discrimination associated with CAC, which differs based on how one responds to unfair treatment.