The Framingham Heart Study turned 65 over the weekend, and a review in the Lancet provides a nice history of the project, along with a sense of the progress made in cardiovascular medicine.
Over the course of the study's first 65 years, systolic — rather than diastolic — pressure has moved to the forefront of concern. As recently as the 1970s, hypertension was diagnosed solely based on diastolic pressure. To estimate an individual's "normal" systolic pressure, physicians used to add 100 to the patient's age.
Among the historical tidbits is this: the study was on the verge of losing its government support at the 20-year mark until President Richard Nixon intervened to save it.
A hearty happy birthday!