Quantifying and Understanding the Higher Risk of Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease among South Asian Individuals: Results from the UK Biobank Prospective Cohort Study
Background: Individuals of South Asian ancestry represent 23% of the global population, corresponding to 1.8 billion people, and have substantially higher risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease compared with most other ethnicities. US practice guidelines now recognize South Asian ancestry as an important risk-enhancing factor. The magnitude of enhanced risk within the context of contemporary clinical care, the extent to which it is captured by existing risk estimators, and its potential mechanisms warrant additional study. Methods: Within the UK Biobank prospective cohort study, 8124 middle-aged participants of South Asian ancestry and 449 349 participants of European ancestry who were free of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease at the time of enrollment were examined. The relationship of ancestry to risk of incident atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease-defined as myocardial infarction, coronary revascularization, or ischemic stroke-was assessed with Cox proportional hazards regression, along with examination of a broad range of clinical, anthropometric, and lifestyle mediators. Results: The mean age at study enrollment was 57 years, and 202 405 (44%) were male. Over a median follow-up of 11 years, 554 of 8124 (6.8%) individuals of South Asian ancestry experienced an atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease event compared with 19 756 of 449 349 (4.4%) individuals of European ancestry, corresponding to an adjusted hazard ratio of 2.03 (95% CI, 1.86-2.22; P0.001). This higher relative risk was largely consistent across a range of age, sex, and clinical subgroups. Despite the 2-fold higher observed risk, the predicted 10-year risk of cardiovascular disease according to the American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology Pooled Cohort equations and QRISK3 equations was nearly identical for individuals of South Asian and European ancestry. Adjustment for a broad range of clinical, anthropometric, and lifestyle risk factors led to only modest attenuation of the observed hazard ratio to 1.45 (95% CI, 1.28-1.65, P0.001). Assessment of variance explained by 18 candidate risk factors suggested greater importance of hypertension, diabetes, and central adiposity in South Asian individuals. Conclusions: Within a large prospective study, South Asian individuals had substantially higher risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease compared with individuals of European ancestry, and this risk was not captured by the Pooled Cohort Equations.