Large amounts of calcified and non-calcified plaque buildup in the arteries put people at risk of cardiovascular disease. But the test commonly used to screen for calcified plaque—a buildup of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other substances found in the blood—doesn’t also detect the presence of non-calcified plaque buildup experienced mostly by black people. Now a relatively new test does just that, according to a study published online in the journal Radiology and reported by

The test that detects calcified plaque is called calcium scoring with CT, while the the test that finds non-calcified plaque is called contrast-enhanced coronary CT angiography (cCTA).
For the study, researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston examined the test results of a group of 301 patients who underwent both the CT and the cCTA tests. The 50-50 study group consisted of an equal number of white male patients and black male patients.

CT test results showed calcified plaque was much more prevalent in white patients while the cCTA test revealed that many more African-American patients had non-calcified plaque—and in greater amounts. This led researchers to conclude that the cCTA test might be a better screening tool for black people’s cardiovascular risk.

Still, scientists cautioned that results of the coronary artery tests might not reflect the true extent of cardiovascular disease.

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