University of Minnesota


Credo: ‘If it isn’t fun, it isn’t epidemiology’

This site introduces the early history of epidemiological research on the causes and prevention of heart attack and stroke from its formal origins in the late 1940s to its exponential growth beginning in the early 1970s. It deals with research of these phenomena in defined populations rather than in the clinic or laboratory. It is directed toward students of medicine and public health and of science history, but is accessible to all. The site considers:

  • the origins of knowledge that converged in the mid-twentieth century to allow recognition and study of epidemic heart attack and stroke, its trends, causes, and prevention.
  • the pioneer investigators and their researches on both individual and societal factors in the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) .
  • the prospective study of CVD risk among patients and healthy populations and clinical trials to lower risk.
  • trends in CVD death rates and their causes.
  • the evolution of concepts, methods, and facilities of CVD prevention research.
  • the institutions, attitudes, people and policies that fostered, and those that obstructed, research and programs on CVD prevention.
  • the development of a new academy of CVD epidemiology and a new practice of preventive cardiology.

The introductory material leads further to details of many epidemiological studies, to biographies of their leaders, and to relevant historical publications, photodocuments, oral histories, and audiovisual material.

The site is clearly archival, largely confined to the people and studies and experience up to the mid-1970s. It allows, however, for the addition of essays on later periods and current topics of interest. 

Links are provided to other research and sources on the causes and prevention of heart attack and stroke.