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About CHS


The Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS) was initiated by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) in 1987 to determine the risk factors for development and progression of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in older adults, with an emphasis on subclinical measures. The study recruited 5,888 adults aged 65 or older at entry in four U.S. communities and conducted extensive annual clinical exams between 1989-1999 along with semi-annual phone calls, events adjudication, and subsequent data analyses and publications. Additional data are collected by studies ancillary to CHS. 

Visit the CHS page at NHLBI.


  • 1987: CHS initiated by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
  • 1989-1990: Original cohort of 5,201 participants enrolled
  • 1992-1993: Supplemental cohort of 687 predominantly African-American participants enrolled
  • 1989-1999: Annual clinic examinations conducted, with intervening 6-month telephone contacts
  • 2000-present: Twice yearly telephone contacts
  • 2005-2006: CHS "All-Stars" examination


In June 1990, four Field Centers completed the recruitment of 5201 participants. Between November 1992 and June 1993, an additional 687 African Americans were recruited using similar methods.

The Field Centers:

  • Sacramento County, Sacramento, CA - University of California, Davis
  • Washington County, Hagerstown, MD - Johns Hopkins University
  • Forsyth County, Winston-Salem, NC - Wake Forest University School of Medicine
  • Pittsburgh, PA - University of Pittsburgh

Baseline examination

The baseline examinations consisted of a home interview and a clinic examination that assessed not only traditional risk factors but also measures of subclinical disease, including carotid ultrasound, echocardiography, electrocardiography, and pulmonary function.

Follow-up of the cohort

Between enrollment and 1998-99, participants were seen in the clinic annually, and contacted by phone at 6-month intervals to collect information about hospitalizations and potential cardiovascular events. Major exam components were repeated during annual follow-up examinations through 1999. Cranial MRI scans, retinal photography, and tests of endothelial function were added as new components. Standard protocols for the identification and adjudication of events were implemented during follow-up. The adjudicated events are CHD, angina, heart failure (HF), stroke, transient ischemic attack (TIA), claudication and mortality.  Adjudication of cause of death continues using a streamlined protocol; adjudication of other events ended in June 2015.  For more details see Summary & Frequency and Events Data Collection.

Since 1999, participants have been contacted every 6 months by phone, primarily to ascertain health status and for events follow-up.

Between April 2005 and April 2006, CHS participants in the CHS All Stars Study were seen in person or by phone to assess physical and cognitive function.

Journal Publications using CHS data

To date, more than 1,900 research papers from CHS have been published and many more are in progress. CHS has made important contributions to medical knowledge. New manuscript proposals are welcome. Please see our Data Distribution Policy.

Ancillary studies to CHS

Ancillary studies have used CHS data and stored biological specimens (CHS Lab Information) to answer new questions at a small marginal cost. To date, more than 400 ancillary studies have been approved, of which many are completed or ongoing. New ancillary study proposals are welcome.

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