Heart Study looking to former participants for next step

Published 8:19 am Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Anyone who has picked up a newspaper, watched television or driven through Bogalusa recently has undoubtedly seen the ads for the Bogalusa Heart Study requesting contact with former study participants.

Marsha Culpepper, clinical nurse coordinator of the Bogalusa Heart Study program, said, “Our goal is to provide better understanding of how to prevent heart disease in our children and grandchildren. People begin to exhibit symptoms of heart disease during their early 40s, so getting checked again at this time could provide helpful and timely information to the participants’ health going into their next decade of life.”

Incorporating healthy lifestyle factors such as eating healthy foods, exercising and not smoking will decrease the risk of heart disease, she said.

All former participants are eligible for one of their current studies. Many participants have moved away and changed phone numbers or addresses, so the biggest challenge right now is in locating them. The study is also checking with Our Lady of the Angels Hospital to see if past participants were ever admitted for heart attacks, strokes or other problems. If anyone remembers being a participant in the study at any time in the past they should call 985-735-9861, visit their website at clersite.org or Facebook page listed under Bogalusa Heart Study for more information.

“Our participants are the reason we have succeeded and are still discovering ways to save lives from heart disease. A little over 12,000 people have participated, and we’re hoping they’ll continue to support us in the future,” Culpepper said.

Heart disease is the number one killer in the United States.

In 2012 the Bogalusa Heart Study was featured in HBO’s documentary called “Weight of the Nation” and demonstrated how the people of Bogalusa have contributed to the discovery of the reasons people have heart disease and how it can be prevented in the community and on a national scale.

Founded in 1972, the Bogalusa Heart Study was selected as a National Institutes of Health sponsored specialized center of research. It is the longest running study in the world that includes both African-American and Caucasian participants from childhood through middle age. This program is now the trademark study of the Tulane Center for Cardiovascular Health. The findings of the studies are derived from a team of highly skilled professionals such as anthropologists, epidemiologists, cardiologists, geneticists, nurses, nutritionists and psychologists and involve researching hereditary and environmental aspects of early coronary artery disease. The research is funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute for Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute of Aging and the American Heart Association.