Cohort Profile: The Framingham Heart Study (FHS): overview of milestones in cardiovascular epidemiology

Int J Epidemiol. 2015 Dec;44(6):1800-13. doi: 10.1093/ije/dyv337.


The Framingham Heart Study (FHS) has conducted seminal research defining cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors and fundamentally shaping public health guidelines for CVD prevention over the past five decades. The success of the Original Cohort, initiated in 1948, paved the way for further epidemiological research in preventive cardiology. Due to the keen observations suggesting the role of shared familial factors in the development of CVD, in 1971 the FHS began enroling the second generation cohort, comprising the children of the Original Cohort and the spouses of the children. In 2002, the third generation cohort, comprising the grandchildren of the Original Cohort, was initiated to additionally explore genetic contributions to CVD in greater depth. Additionally, because of the predominance of White individuals of European descent in the three generations of FHS participants noted above, the Heart Study enrolled the OMNI1 and OMNI2 cohorts in 1994 and 2003, respectively, aimed to reflect the current greater racial and ethnic diversity of the town of Framingham. All FHS cohorts have been examined approximately every 2-4 years since the initiation of the study. At these periodic Heart Study examinations, we obtain a medical history and perform a cardiovascular-focused physical examination, 12-lead electrocardiography, blood and urine samples testing and other cardiovascular imaging studies reflecting subclinical disease burden.The FHS has continually evolved along the cutting edge of cardiovascular science and epidemiological research since its inception. Participant studies now additionally include study of cardiovascular imaging, serum and urine biomarkers, genetics/genomics, proteomics, metabolomics and social networks. Numerous ancillary studies have been established, expanding the phenotypes to encompass multiple organ systems including the lungs, brain, bone and fat depots, among others. Whereas the FHS was originally conceived and designed to study the epidemiology of cardiovascular disease, it has evolved over the years with staggering expanded breadth and depth that have far greater implications in the study of the epidemiology of a wide spectrum of human diseases. The FHS welcomes research collaborations using existing or new collection of data. Detailed information regarding the procedures for research application submission and review are available at [].

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Asian / statistics & numerical data
  • Biomarkers / metabolism*
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / diagnosis
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / genetics
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diet
  • Echocardiography
  • Electrocardiography
  • Epidemiologic Studies
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Hypercholesterolemia / epidemiology
  • Hypertension / epidemiology
  • Hypertrophy, Left Ventricular / epidemiology
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Massachusetts / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Overweight / epidemiology
  • Phenotype
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • White People / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers