Home » exercise » Racial Differences in Physical Activity and Acquisition of Coronary Artery Calcification

Racial Differences in Physical Activity and Acquisition of Coronary Artery Calcification

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Last week a study was published stating that white men who exercised 3 times the recommendation of 1.5 hours (450 minutes, 7.5 hours) had a higher chance of getting coronary artery calcification (CAC), which is the accumulation of plaque and calcium in the arteries of the heart. You, of course see news headlines such as: “Physically active white men at high risk for plaque buildup in arteries“; “White Men Who Exercise Every Day Have 86 Per Cent Higher Risk of Heart Disease Than Black Men, Study Claims“; “Excessive Exercise May Harm The Heart, Study Suggests “; “Excessive exercise increases risk of arterial plaque buildup in white men“; (and my personal favorite headline about this study): “You can exercise yourself to death, says new study“. People just passing by and reading the title (like most do) may then conclude that “they’re saying not to exercise because of CAC.” No, this is not what they are saying at all.

The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study is one of the most important studies in the study of coronary heart disease that have been undertaken. It is a sample of men and women, about equal numbers of each race, from Birmingham, Alabama; Chicago, Illinois; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Oakland, California. The study began in 1985-86 and there were follow-up examinations at “1987-1988 (Year 2), 1990-1991 (Year 5), 1992-1993 (Year 7), 1995-1996 (Year 10), 2000-2001 (Year 15), 2005-2006 (Year 20), 2010-2011 (Year 25), and 2015-2016 (Year 30).” The CARDIA website writes:

Data have also been collected on physical measurements such as weight and body composition as well as lifestyle factors such as dietary and exercise patterns, substance use (tobacco and alcohol), behavioral and psychological variables, medical and family history, and other chemistries (e.g., insulin).

So there is a goldmine of information to be gleaned from this data. The study that is getting press in the news uses data from this cohort.

The study

The study is titled 25-Year Physical Activity Trajectories and Development of Subclinical Coronary Artery Disease as Measured by Coronary Artery Calcium by Laddu et al (2017). They studied three cohorts by the amount of time they exercised per week: below requirement, at requirements, or above requirements. It is recommended to exercise at least 150 minutes per week.

There were 3,175 men and women who participated in the CARDIA study between 1985 and 2011 who had CAC data available for 25 years. About 47.4 percent of the sample was black, with 56.6 being women. The cohort “consisted of 18.9% black men, 24.6% white men, 28.6% black women, and 28.0% white women” (Laddu et al, 2017).

Of the three activity levels they studies (below 150 minutes, 150 minutes, and over 150 minutes), they observed that white men who exercised 3 times the weekly recommendation (150 minutes(3)= 450 minutes=7.5 hours) had a higher chance of developing CAC. It’s worth noting that exercise time was self-reported (which is the only way I can see how something like this would work, are you supposed to follow people with a camera every day to see how long they engage in physical activity?).

In regards to the physical activity measurement, Laddu et al (2017) write:

At each of the 8 examinations, self-reported leisure-time PA was ascertained by the interviewer-administered CARDIA Physical Activity History Questionnaire.17 Participants were asked about the frequency of participation in 13 specific categories (8 vigorous intensity and 5 moderate intensity) of recreational sports, exercise, home maintenance, and occupational activities during the previous 12 months. Intensity for each activity was expressed as metabolic equivalents (METs), in which 1 MET is defined as the energy expended at rest, which is approximately equivalent to an oxygen consumption of 3.5 mL per 1 kg of body weight per minute.18Vigorous activities (≥6 METs) included running or jogging; racquet sports; biking; swimming; exercise or dance class; job lifting, carrying, or digging; shoveling or lifting during leisure; and strenuous sports. Moderate-intensity activities (3-5 METs) included nonstrenuous sports, walking and hiking, golfing and bowling, home exercises or calisthenics, and home maintenance or gardening.19 Each activity was scored according to whether it was performed for 1 hour or longer during any 1 month during the past year, the number of months it was performed at that level, and the number of months the activity was performed frequently. Each activity was then assigned an intensity score, ranging from 3 to 8 METs, and a duration threshold (ranging from 2-5 hours per week), above which participation was considered to be frequent.20

This is a good metric; though I would like to see a study that looks at just gym-going activity and death, time spent in the gym strength training/moderate to intense cardio. Nevertheless, white men who reported more physical activity had a higher chance of acquiring CAC. Though I can see people’s recall being hazy, people over/under reporting, etc etc.

White men who exercised 7.5 hours per week were 27 percent more likely to get CAC, whereas blacks who exercised that much were at no greater risk to acquire CAC when compared to whites (7.5 hours of exercise compared to less than 2.5 hours per week). Black women who exercised less than the recommendations had a higher chance of acquiring CAC. The researchers couldn’t ascertain why white men who exercised three times the recommendations had such a higher chance of acquiring CAC by the time they reached middle age, but Dr. Jamal Rana says “however this plaque buildup may well be of the more stable kind, and thus less likely to rupture and causes heart attack, which was not evaluated in this study.” The head author, Dr. Deepika Laddu also reiterated: “it does not suggest that anyone should stop exercising.” So people who just read these click bait headlines who say “They’re telling whites not to exercise!”, you’re wrong and you should read papers and not news articles.

This is the perfect example of people reading click baity, fear-mongering headlines and running with it. I saw some people saying “They’re telling us not to exercise!” No. If you were to read the paper and any serious news articles on the matter, you’d see that they do not recommend that people do not exercise. Now the question is, why do whites who exercise more than 7.5 hours per week have a higher chance of acquiring heart disease? I can think of a few explanations (though they are not satisfactory): 1) genes: which genes? Why? How do they interact with the body over time to lead to arterial calcification?; 2) dietary habits: I’d like to know what their diet was like and see their macro composition, carbohydrates, not saturated fat, causes heart disease (Siri-Tirino et al, 2010; de Souza et al, 2015) so that may be a huge contributing factor.

Nevertheless, this is yet another physiological race difference. Oddly enough, black men are more likely than white men to have hypertension (Hicken et al, 2013).

Even though black men, on average, have higher rates of hypertension than white men, white men who are physically active for 7.5 had a higher chance of acquiring CAC than those who exercised less than 2.5 hours per week. This effect wasn’t seen in black men who had physical activity at that level, which, of course, implies that differences in genes and SES underlie this difference. I await more papers into this matter into the mechanisms of how and why this occurs and will ruminate on this myself in the future. No, this study does not tell white men not to exercise.



  1. ian smith says:

    anatoly karlin points out today that southern italians are much dukber than northern italians.

    The classic example of this is, of course, Italy, where the 103 IQ, highly productive north has gotten increasingly fed up with the 93 IQ nepotistic, lackadaisical south.

    what’s really sad is that southern italians are NOT italians.

    and this comment will be deleted by a southern italian.

    the truth hurts.

    before i read rr i didn’t know a european could be so stupid.

    now i understand why northern italy wants to secede.


  2. ron burgundy says:

    what a pathetic guinea.

    he bitches about being banned from peepee’s yet he bans anyone who disagrees with him from his own blog, which no one reads.

    time to let southern italy loose.



    • RaceRealist says:

      Unlike peepees blog, I like on topic comments that contribute to discussion. Most of your comments do not. See your comments that don’t get removed? Those are on topic. Your nonsensical, off-topic rambling that doesn’t add anything to the conversation gets removed


    • ron burgundy says:

      it’s funny how both you and afro are CONFIRMATION of the stereotype of your people.


    • RaceRealist says:

      Sure thing pal.

      On topic comments don’t get removed. Off topic comments do get removed. It’s very simple. Take your nonsensical ramblings elsewhere. If you have something to add to anything and it’s on topic then it will stay.


    • ron burgundy says:

      Sorry, this comment could not be posted.

      Sorry, this comment could not be posted.

      Sorry, this comment could not be posted.

      no one reads your blog.

      you have no reason to censor comments.

      and you’re so fucking retarded you think that the only comments not posted you yourself have removed.

      1,000 comments are not posted for every 1 you yourself remove.

      do you want a popular blog or do you want to be a guido subhuman?


    • RaceRealist says:

      I want a blog with on-topic discussion.


  3. ron burgundy says:

    rr bans any comments which don’t suck his cock. typical WOP.

    my recollection from the article lion posted is that white male exercisers had an 86% higher frequency of CAC. not 27% or whatever.

    the difference between correlation and cause-alation is seen when the effect is yuge. 86% is yuge. 27% is not. ///

    this reminded me of a case report of a 50 something physician. he was a yuge runner but he had yuge CAC.

    the explanation in his case was something called “exercise induced hypertension”.

    everyone’s bp rises with aerobic exercise, BUT…

    some people’s bp rises to artery damaging levels.///

    weightlifting causes extremely high bp, but only for a few seconds.

    would be interesting to know if weightlifters or joggers had more CAC.

    fitness is a scam just like oprah.


    peepee and afro have taught me that blacks and homosexuals are inferior and evil.

    rr has taught me that southern italians are innately inferior.

    i thank them for their tutelage.///


    • RaceRealist says:

      my recollection from the article lion posted is that white male exercisers had an 86% higher frequency of CAC. not 27% or whatever.

      Lion doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I read papers, not shitty news articles.

      From the discussion:

      We found 27% higher odds of CAC>0 in participants who exceeded PA guidelines vs those below PA guidelines.

      this reminded me of a case report of a 50 something physician. he was a yuge runner but he had yuge CAC.

      the explanation in his case was something called “exercise induced hypertension”.


      everyone’s bp rises with aerobic exercise, BUT…

      some people’s bp rises to artery damaging levels.


      The point is how much exercise (PA) one does over time.

      would be interesting to know if weightlifters or joggers had more CAC.

      I am not aware of anything for weight lifters.


      Conventional cardiovascular risk stratification underestimates the CAC burden in presumably healthy marathon runners. As CAC burden and frequent marathon running seem to correlate with subclinical myocardial damage, an increased awareness of a potentially higher than anticipated coronary risk is warranted.

      Running: the risk of coronary events : Prevalence and prognostic relevance of coronary atherosclerosis in marathon runners.

      fitness is a scam just like oprah.

      Oprah is a scam, but fitness is not. Retards with no understanding of exercise physiology read these retarded, click bait headlines and run with it. People shouldn’t talk about things they’re not knowledgeable about (like Lion).

      Also, since this effect wasn’t noticed for blacks and was huge for whites, then that shows that genes are implicit—along with, of course, SES, diet, etc.


    • ron burgundy says:

      i recalled correctly. almost double the risk for white men. no increased risk for any other group. just like white men kill themselves at the highest rate of any group.

      an 86% increase IS cause and effect.

      the only question is…is CAC a bad thing?

      trump doesn’t exercise, because he believes it causes heart disease.

      or so i have read.


    • ron burgundy says:

      i may have been wrong. i’m not black or italian so i can admit it.

      it may not be cause and effect. i assumed by “exercise” was meant recreational exercise.

      …of recreational sports, exercise, home maintenance, and occupational activities

      it was a good assumption. the authors themselves use “exercise” in the sense of recreational exercise in this quote.

      white men who have blue collar jobs or falling down houses probably eat very poorly too, because they’re proles.

      would be interesting to see where the exercise comes from. only if it were almost 100% recreational would a conclusion of cause and effect be warranted. one way to find out indirectly is by comparing the bmis of the exercisers to the sedentary. if the exercisers were fat, then their exercise is not exercise, it’w work.

      by my hunch is that intense aerobic exercise is not the best thing for everyone.


  4. ron burgundy says:

    no. i was right.

    the CAC in white females is just as bad. but there were too few white females to meet the arbitrary significance level?

    the high exercise group had lower bp, cholesterol, bmi. they had the same level of education and smoked the same amount.

    would be interesting to look at just the recreational exercisers though.


  5. ron burgundy says:

    anyway, rr’s profession is to kill people early by encouraging them to exercise and eat spaghetti. //


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