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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Ethnic differences in the occurrence of acute coronary syndrome: results of the Malaysian National Cardiovascular Disease (NCVD) Database Registry (March 2006 - February 2010)

Hou Tee Lu12* and Rusli Bin Nordin1

Author Affiliations

1 Clinical School Johor Bahru, Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Monash University Sunway campus, 8 Jalan Masjid Abu Bakar, 80100, Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia

2 Department of Cardiology, Sultanah Aminah Hospital, Jalan Abu Bakar, 80100, Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia

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BMC Cardiovascular Disorders 2013, 13:97  doi:10.1186/1471-2261-13-97

Published: 6 November 2013



The National Cardiovascular Disease (NCVD) Database Registry represents one of the first prospective, multi-center registries to treat and prevent coronary artery disease (CAD) in Malaysia. Since ethnicity is an important consideration in the occurrence of acute coronary syndrome (ACS) globally, therefore, we aimed to identify the role of ethnicity in the occurrence of ACS among high-risk groups in the Malaysian population.


The NCVD involves more than 15 Ministry of Health (MOH) hospitals nationwide, universities and the National Heart Institute and enrolls patients presenting with ACS [ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), non-ST elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI) and unstable angina (UA)]. We analyzed ethnic differences across socio-demographic characteristics, hospital medications and invasive therapeutic procedures, treatment of STEMI and in-hospital clinical outcomes.


We enrolled 13,591 patients. The distribution of the NCVD population was as follows: 49.0% Malays, 22.5% Chinese, 23.1% Indians and 5.3% Others (representing other indigenous groups and non-Malaysian nationals). The mean age (SD) of ACS patients at presentation was 59.1 (12.0) years. More than 70% were males. A higher proportion of patients within each ethnic group had more than two coronary risk factors. Malays had higher body mass index (BMI). Chinese had highest rate of hypertension and hyperlipidemia. Indians had higher rate of diabetes mellitus (DM) and family history of premature CAD. Overall, more patients had STEMI than NSTEMI or UA among all ethnic groups. The use of aspirin was more than 94% among all ethnic groups. Utilization rates for elective and emergency percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) and coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) were low among all ethnic groups. In STEMI, fibrinolysis (streptokinase) appeared to be the dominant treatment options (>70%) for all ethnic groups. In-hospital mortality rates for STEMI across ethnicity ranges from 8.1% to 10.1% (pā€‰=ā€‰0.35). Among NSTEMI/UA patients, the rate of in-hospital mortality ranges from 3.7% to 6.5% and Malays recorded the highest in-hospital mortality rate compared to other ethnic groups (pā€‰=ā€‰0.000). In binary multiple logistic regression analysis, differences across ethnicity in the age and sex-adjusted ORs for in-hospital mortality among STEMI patients was not significant; for NSTEMI/UA patients, Chinese [OR 0.71 (95% CI 0.55, 0.91)] and Indians [OR 0.57 (95% CI 0.43, 0.76)] showed significantly lower risk of in-hospital mortality compared to Malays (reference group).


Risk factor profiles and ACS stratum were significantly different across ethnicity. Despite disparities in risk factors, clinical presentation, medical treatment and invasive management, ethnic differences in the risk of in-hospital mortality was not significant among STEMI patients. However, Chinese and Indians showed significantly lower risk of in-hospital mortality compared to Malays among NSTEMI and UA patients.