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Affairs of the Heart
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Photo of Alan and Bill Castelli

Bill Castelli loves data. Ask him almost any question at all, and the answer will likely involve a research paper published sometime within the last century. Just the man you'd want to run the world's longest-running epidemiological study. Just the man you'd want to tell you how to change your lifestyle for the better.
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From Framingham. . . to Framingham


"The gift of the people of Framingham is that they taught us the risk factors"

 

Dr. William Castelli became the third director of the now famous Framingham Heart Study in 1979, having served there since 1965. The well-known study began in 1948, when the federal government wondered what was killing scores of seemingly healthy men in their 50's and 60's. Now, more than 50 years, 1,000 research papers and $43 million later, the long-running study has shed much light on the risk factors that cause heart disease. In fact, scientists at the heart study coined the phrase "risk factor." Today we're all aware of them: obesity, smoking, high fat diet, high blood pressure, and diabetes to name a few.

Photo of Castelli
  Castelli directed the Framingham Heart Study for over 26 years.

But though the study has made it very clear what people need to do to prevent heart disease, life in 20th century America makes healthful behavior difficult.

"People in China and India can't get this disease," says Castelli.

"Americans are the kings of sloth and gluttony. We engineered all the physical activity right out of our lives." "

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