How the Framingham Heart Study Works

Other Findings of the Framingham Heart Study

Over time, the FHS has expanded to look at medical issues other than those involved with CVD. Neurological disorder research has been a focal point for several decades, particularly after a program began in 1997 where FHS participants could donate brain tissue after death.

This has allowed researchers to look at the impact of the aging process on the brain, and to learn more about neurological illnesses, like Parkinson's or Alzheimer's diseases. This research is also helping to develop a better understanding of the genetic risks of these diseases.

A street sign in Framingham touts its place as the home of this famous heart study.
A street sign in Framingham touts its place as the home of this famous heart study.

In addition, a recent examination of Offspring Cohort participants found a possible link between consumption of artificially sweetened beverages and dementia and stroke. Specifically, those who consumed one or more of that type of beverage per day were 2.9 times as likely to eventually be diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, and three times as likely to experience ischemic stroke (stroke as a result of blood clots) as those who didn't [source: Bachert].

On a more lighthearted note, another study used FHS-gleaned genetic data to determine that many married couples look alike because of conscious or unconscious preference for certain characteristics, like height, weight, social class and religion. The FHS data showed that, while this practice was pretty much a given post-World War II, it has declined consistently in the decades since [source: Sebro].

At least 1,200 articles have been published in prominent medical journals using data from the FHS [source: Hajar]. And as this remarkable study continues, no doubt there will be many more to come.