The Health eHeart Study, an internet-based clinical research study from the University of California, San Francisco, is actively recruiting participants interested in helping investigators better understand cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association is working closely with the Health eHeart investigators on several initiatives, including helping to recruit participants.

The study needs people of all ages and from all backgrounds. Participants can be healthy or not, including having a history of heart disease or other medical conditions. The goal is to enroll a million people.

Since the study launched a year ago, more than 7,200 adults from 59 countries have joined the study.

More than 90 percent of the participants are from the United States. About half are male, and 42 percent are between the ages of 50 and 69. Some participants are heart disease-free while others have heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or smoke. 83 percent are white; 9 percent are Asian; 3 percent are black; and 2 percent are Native American. To address the unique challenges of ethnic and gender disparities, the Health eHeart Study is planning to launch special recruitment initiatives to help assure adequate representation of minorities and women.

Racial diversity is particularly important in understanding heart disease and stroke. For example, nearly half of all African-American adults have some form of cardiovascular disease. Similarly, nearly half of Mexican-Americans have high cholesterol — a major risk factor for heart disease. Type 2 diabetes, which is another major risk factor for heart disease, disproportionally affects African-Americans, Hispanics and Latinos, as well as other ethnic minorities.

“It is important to have broad representation with varying demographics to be sure we account for the full range of biologic diversity in our population,” said Elliott Antman, M.D., president-elect of the American Heart Association, co-chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee for the USCF study and professor of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “That will assure us as investigators and clinicians who read reports from this study that we have findings that can be relied upon to guide our management of patients with cardiovascular disease in the future.”

The Health eHeart study tracks information as participants go about their daily lives. Study participants use mobile devices such as their smartphones and various apps, along with at-home wireless devices to feed data about their personal activities into a protected data system. They periodically answer questionnaires about their lifestyles and overall well-being. Researchers will use the data to develop more tailored approaches to better understand, prevent, treat and reduce heart disease and stroke.

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