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The Framingham Heart Study is a cardiovascular study based in Framingham, Massachusetts. The study began in 1948 with 5,209 adult subjects from Framingham, and is now on its third generation of participants. Prior to it almost nothing was known about "the epidemiology of hypertensive or arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease.[1]" Much of the now-common knowledge concerning heart disease, such as the effects of diet, exercise, and common medications such as aspirin, is based on this longitudinal study. It is a project of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, in collaboration with (since 1971) Boston University. Various health professionals from the hospitals and universities of Greater Boston staff the project.

Thomas Royle Dawber was Director of the study from 1949 to 1966. He was appointed as chief epidemiologist shortly after the start of the project, when it was not progressing well.[2] The study had been intended to last 20 years, but at that time Dawber moved to Boston and became chairman of preventive medicine, raising funds to continue the project and taking it with him.

One of the crucial questions in evidence-based medicine is how closely the people in a study resemble the patient you are dealing with.[3] Recently the Framingham studies have become regarded as overestimating risk, particularly in the lower risk groups, for UK populations.[4] There has been widespread discussion of the study, and it is generally accepted that the work is outstanding in its scope and duration, and is overall considered very useful. Researchers recently used contact information given by subjects over the last 30 years to map the social network of friends and family in the study.[5]

The initial population was 5,209 healthy men and women aged 30 to 60, not the whole of the town population, as is sometimes assumed. A similar longitudinal study has been carried out in a high proportion of the residents of Busselton, a town in Western Australia, over a period of many years;[6] however, Framingham is more widely cited.

Footnotes

  1. ^ Thomas R. Dawber, M.D., Gilcin F. Meadors, M.D., M.P.H., and Felix E. Moore, Jr., National Heart Institute, National Institues of Health, Public Health Service, Federal Security Agensy, Washington, D. C., Epidemiological Approaches to Heart Disease: The Framingham Study Presented at a Joint Session of the Epidemiology, Health Officers, Medical Care, and Statistics Sections of the American Public Health Association, at the Seventy-eighth Annual Meeting in St. Louis, Mo., November 3, 1950.
  2. ^ Richmond (2006). "Obituary: Thomas Royle Dawber" (fee required). BMJ 332: 122. doi:10.1136/bmj.332.7533.122. http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/full/332/7533/122.  
  3. ^ David Hadden (7 September 2002). "Holidays in Framingham?". BMJ 325: 544. doi:10.1136/bmj.325.7363.544. http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/full/325/7363/544.  
  4. ^ Brindle P, Emberson J, Lampe F, et al. (2003). "Predictive accuracy of the Framingham coronary risk score in British men: prospective cohort study". BMJ 327 (7426): 1267. doi:10.1136/bmj.327.7426.1267. PMID 14644971.  
  5. ^ Nicholas A. Christakis and James H. Fowler. (2007). "The Spread of Obesity in a Large Social Network Over 32 Years," New England Journal of Medicine 357 (4): 370-379
  6. ^ A list of publications from the Busselton study
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Works cited

  • Daniel Levy and Susan Brink. (2005). A Change of Heart: How the People of Framingham, Massachusetts, Helped Unravel the Mysteries of Cardiovascular Disease. Knopf. ISBN 0-375-41275-1.

External links


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