Background: A clear need exists for a more systematic understanding of the epidemiology, diagnosis, and management of cardiovascular diseases. More robust data are also needed on how well clinical trials are translated into contemporary community practice and the associated resource use, costs, and outcomes.
Methods and results: The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recently established the Cardiovascular Research Network, which represents a new paradigm to evaluate the epidemiology, quality of care, and outcomes of cardiovascular disease and to conduct future clinical trials using a community-based model. The network includes 15 geographically distributed health plans with dedicated research centers, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute representatives, and an external collaboration and advisory committee. Cardiovascular research network sites bring complementary content and methodological expertise and a diverse population of approximately 11 million individuals treated through various health care delivery models. Each site's rich electronic databases (eg, sociodemographic characteristics, inpatient and outpatient diagnoses and procedures, pharmacy, laboratory, and cost data) are being mapped to create a standardized virtual data warehouse to facilitate rapid and efficient large-scale research studies. Initial projects focus on (1) hypertension recognition and management, (2) quality and outcomes of warfarin therapy, and (3) use, outcomes, and costs of implantable cardioverter defibrillators.
Conclusions: The Cardiovascular Research Network represents a new paradigm in the approach to cardiovascular quality of care and outcomes research among community-based populations. Its unique ability to characterize longitudinally large, diverse populations will yield novel insights into contemporary disease and risk factor surveillance, management, outcomes, and costs. The Cardiovascular Research Network aims to become the national research partner of choice for efforts to improve the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes of cardiovascular diseases.