It was earlier believed that individuals could not do anything to modify risk factors for stroke and heart diseases. Then one study changed all that.
The Framingham Heart Study began in Framingham Massachusetts in 1948 with 5209 adults. It is the one multi-generational study that has helped us in understanding cardiovascular diseases better. Later on, the children and even grandchildren of the original group became part of the study. The study has collaborators with the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, Boston University, and other universities. To date, more than 1000 research papers have been published on the study.
The Framingham Heart Study participants go through detailed medical history, physical examination, and medical tests every two years. These data points have been carefully recorded for more than seventy years now.
The study established the following key findings categorically;
- LDL cholesterol is strongly linked with coronary heart disease while HDL cholesterol has a protective effect
- Both elderly and younger participants had the same issues with hypertension and had the same capacity to handle higher blood pressure
- The bad effects of smoking on health including the improvements that one can get by even reducing the number of cigarettes
- Bad diets, sedentary living, and excessive weight are correlated to increased risks of heart disease
- Exercise reduces the risks for heart disease
Now the study is also collecting valuable data to understand diseases like Cancer, Arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and the genetic linkages that underpin them.