Framingham Heart Study Provides Important Data

Armen Hareyan's picture
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"Sixty years ago, Americans smoked, drank and ate too much of the wrongthings -- then died of heart disease and stroke at higher and higherrates," but the ongoing Framingham Heart Study, sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute at NIH, "changed the way many Americans live" and "turned things around," HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt writes in a Boston Globeopinion piece. For the study, which began in 1948, researchers at theBoston University School of Medicine have tracked the lifestyles andmedical histories of more than 14,000 residents of Framingham, Mass.,Leavitt writes. According to Leavitt, the study led to thedetermination of "risk factors" for cardiovascular disease -- such assmoking, hypertension and high cholesterol levels -- and, since the1960s, the mortality rate from the condition has decreased by more than60%.

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Today, the study is "once again at the forefront ofmedical research," as last month "Framingham became one of severalresearch projects in which participants' clinical records have beenpaired with their genetic data to help researchers learn more about theassociations between genetic factors and health," he writes.

Leavittadds, "We need extensive and reliable clinical information from largenumbers of people if we are to understand the genetic role and use iteffectively," and the "data from the Framingham Study is unusually richand deep" and "promises to make a significant contribution to a futurein which genetic medicine helps us predict, prevent, pre-empt and curedisease" (Leavitt, Boston Globe, 11/27).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. Youcan view the entire Kaiser DailyHealth Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email deliveryat kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily HealthPolicy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The HenryJ. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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