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NIH celebrates 10 years of research into health disparities
Date:9/21/2010

The tenth anniversary of the Jackson Heart Study (JHS) will be observed on Sept. 23-24 in Jackson, Mississippi. The JHS is the largest study in history to investigate genetic factors that affect high blood pressure, heart and lung disease, stroke, diabetes, and other important diseases in African-Americans.

"Cardiovascular disease is more prevalent among African-Americans than among whites in the United States. The Jackson Heart Study is exploring the genetic and environmental factors that contribute to this disparity," said NHLBI Acting Director Susan B. Shurin, M.D. "The study is looking at ways to diagnose and image heart abnormalities before they become clinically evident, and may help researchers to develop approaches to prevent and treat heart disease in African-Americans."

The JHS originally recruited 5,300 African-Americans living in Jackson. Approximately 4,900 study participants are currently being followed. This is an observational study in which participants undergo examination and testing, but it does not involve treatment. Research is conducted at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson State University, and Tougaloo College. The JHS is funded by the NIH's National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities.

The JHS has observed study participants' lives and how their heart health is related to their environment. Important findings have included:

In African-Americans, family history and obesity are the main factors that predict high levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a protein in the blood associated with inflammation and linked to heart disease. Nearly a quarter of the risk for high CRP levels can be traced to preventable cardiovascular risk factors, especially obesity.

  • The difference in obesity prevalence between African-Americans and white Americans may be explained by genetic variations.

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Contact: NHLBI Office of Communications
nhlbi_news@nhlbi.nih.gov
301-496-4236
NIH/National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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