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.

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.

Author's Note: How the Framingham Heart Study Works

Just about all of us have been impacted by some form of heart disease, whether firsthand or by way of a loved one. As someone who lost one of her favorite people without warning to catastrophic myocardial infarction, I hope that this valuable research continues for years to come, making sure to tweak it along the way to be more generalizable to all types of people.

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More Great Links


  • Bachert, Alexandria. "Study finds diet soda associated with stroke, dementia." MedPage Today. April 20, 2017 (June 18, 2017)
  • "Framingham's TB Study 1916-1923 — Paving the way for the Framingham Heart Study (1948)." 2017 (June 18, 2017)
  • CityTownInfo. "Framingham, Massachusetts." 2017 (June 18, 2017)
  • Davis, Margot MD and Margot Davis, MD, Jason Andrade, MD, FRCPC, Carolyn Taylor, MD, MPH, FRCPC, Andrew Ignaszewski, MD, FRCPC. "Cardiovascular risk factors and models of risk prediction: Recognizing the leadership of Dr Roy Dawber." British Columbia Medical Journal. Sept. 2010 (June 18, 2017)
  • Framingham Heart Study. "Epidemiological Background and Design:
  • Framingham Heart Study. "Epidemiological Background and Design:The Framingham Study." 2017 (June 18, 2017)
  • Framingham Heart Study. "New Offspring Spouse Cohort." 2017 (June 18, 2017)
  • Framingham Heart Study. "Omni Cohorts." 2017 (June 18, 2017)
  • Framingham Heart Study. "Postmortem brain tissue donation program." 2017 (June 18, 2017)
  • Framingham Heart Study. "Third Generation Cohort." 2017 (June 18, 2017)
  • Hajar, Rachel. "Framingham Contribution to Cardiovascular Disease." Heart Views. April-Jun 2016 (June 18, 2017)
  • Mahmoon, Syed S. and Daniel Levy, Ramachandran S. Vasan and Thomas J. Wang. "The Framingham Heart Study and the Epidemiology of Cardiovascular Diseases: A Historical Perspective." The Lancet. March 15, 2014 (June 18, 2017)
  • Whitney, Kathy. "Framingham Heart Study's landmark impact examined." Vanderbilt University News. Oct. 3, 2013 (June 18, 2017)
  • Zohreh Khayyam-Nekouei and Hamidtaher Neshatdoost, Alireza Yousefy, Masoumeh Sadeghi, and Gholamreza Manshaee. "Psychological factors and coronary heart disease." ARYA Atheroscler. Jan. 2013 (June 18, 2017)

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