Calcium accumulates in the arteries of the heart after plaque builds up and calcifies over time.
Researchers at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in the US found that South Asians with a family history of heart disease were three times more likely to have calcium levels above 300 in the heart's arteries.
This level is likely to increase the risk of a serious coronary event by up to 10 per cent, 15 per cent, or even more, they said. Researcher Jaideep Patel suggests family history may be a more important predictor for South Asians than for other ethnic groups.
"A CT scan to check for coronary artery calcium may be an important test for South Asians whose parents, siblings, or children have coronary artery disease," said Parag Joshi, a preventive cardiologist at UT Southwestern.
The study was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Cardiovascular Imaging.