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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 on its third generation of participants at present. Most of the now common knowledge concerning heart disease, such as the effects of diet, exercise, and common medications such as aspirin, are 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 (1949-66) was appointed as chief epidemiologist shortly after the start of the project, when it was not progressing well.[1] The study had been intended to last 20 years, but at that time Dawber moved to Boston and became a preventive medicine chair, 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.[2] Recently the Framingham studies have become regarded as overestimating risk, particularly in the lower risk groups, for UK populations. Nevertheless, they are very useful. There has been widespread discussion of the study, but it is generally accepted that the work is outstanding in its scope and duration and is considered very useful.

The initial population was 5209 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.[3] However Framingham is more widely cited.


  1. Richmond (2006). Obituary: Thomas Royle Dawber. BMJ 332: 122.
  2. David Hadden (7 September 2002). Holidays in Framingham?. BMJ 325: 544.
  3. A list of publications from the Busselton study


  • 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

no:Framingham Heart Study
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