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

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-239
Number of pages11
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 19 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by contracts 75N92020D00001, HHSN268201500003I, N01-HC-95159, 75N92020D00005, N01-HC-95160, 75N92020D00002, N01-HC-95161, 75N92020D00003, N01-HC-95162, 75N92020D00006, N01-HC-95163, 75N92020D00004, N01-HC-95164, 75N92020D00007, N01-HC-95165, N01-HC-95166, N01-HC-95167, N01-HC-95168, and N01-HC-95169 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and by grants UL1-TR-000040, UL1-TR-001079, and UL1-TR-001420 from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) and R01 HL071759 and 2P60MD002249 (to Dr Diez-Roux).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Lippincott Williams and Wilkins. All rights reserved.


  • cardiovascular diseases
  • ethnic and racial minorities
  • health status disparities
  • social determinants of health

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.


Dive into the research topics of 'Racial and Ethnic Differences in All-Cause and Cardiovascular Disease Mortality: The MESA Study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this