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A glance back: the Framingham Heart Study

Posted by on July 31st, 2018

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the landmark FrFramingham physiciansamingham Heart Study. It is named for the town of Framingham, MA from which the original cohort (there are now six groups of participants) of 5,209 men and women were recruited.

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States, and it achieved that rank by the 1940s. But for many at the time, it was considered unavoidable result of getting older. Fortunately, in 1948, President Harry Truman signed into law the ‘National Heart Act’ which did two things:

  1. Created the National Heart Institute, better known today at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
  2. Allocated funds for a twenty-year heart study

Its milestones over the years have been important and numerous – here are just a few:

  • In 1967, it was discovered that physical activity reduced the risk of heart disease
  • In 1988, HDL or “good” cholesterol was found to reduce risk of death
  • In 2002, obesity was determined as a risk factor for heart failure

To learn more, you can read a history from 2014 that details its start and impacts, including the fact that this study was closely linked to the health of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

To celebrate the anniversary, Daniel Levy, M.D., Director, Framingham Heart Study, and Chief of the Population Sciences Branch, NHLBI, gave a recorded talk earlier this year.

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Photo Credit: “Framingham Heart Study physicians” by NIH History Office via The Commons (Flickr)

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