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Study Description

The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study, sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), is a prospective epidemiologic study conducted in four U.S. communities. The four communities are Forsyth County, NC; Jackson, MS; the northwest suburbs of Minneapolis, MN; and Washington County, MD. ARIC is designed to investigate the etiology and natural history of atherosclerosis, the etiology of clinical atherosclerotic diseases, and variation in cardiovascular risk factors, medical care and disease by race, gender, location, and date.

ARIC includes two parts: the Cohort Component and the Community Surveillance Component. The Cohort Component began in 1987, and each ARIC field center randomly selected and recruited a cohort sample of approximately 4,000 individuals aged 45-64 from a defined population in their community. A total of 15,792 participants received an extensive examination, including medical, social, and demographic data. These participants were reexamined every three years with the first screen (baseline) occurring in 1987-89, the second in 1990-92, the third in 1993-95, and the fourth and last exam was in 1996-98. Follow-up occurs yearly by telephone to maintain contact with participants and to assess health status of the cohort.

In the Community Surveillance Component, currently ongoing, these four communities are investigated to determine the community-wide occurrence of hospitalized myocardial infarction and coronary heart disease deaths in men and women aged 35-84 years. Hospitalized stroke is investigated in cohort participants only. Starting in 2006, the study conducts community surveillance of inpatient (ages 55 years and older) and outpatient heart failure (ages 65 years and older) for heart failure events beginning in 2005.

ARIC is currently funded through January 31, 2012.

This study is part of the Gene Environment Association Studies initiative (GENEVA, http://www.genevastudy.org) funded by the trans-NIH Genes, Environment, and Health Initiative (GEI). The overarching goal is to identify novel genetic factors that contribute to atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease through large-scale genome-wide association studies of well-characterized cohorts of adults in four defined populations. Genotyping was performed at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, a GENEVA genotyping center. Data cleaning and harmonization were done at the GEI-funded GENEVA Coordinating Center at the University of Washington.

  • Study Weblink: ARIC UNC
  • Study Type: Case-Cohort
  • Number of study subjects that have individual level data available through Authorized Access: 12771

Authorized Access
Publicly Available Data (Public ftp)

Connect to the public download site. The site contains release notes and manifests. If available, the site also contains data dictionaries, variable summaries, documents, and truncated analyses.

In the course of routine data cleaning and data analyses, investigators may incidentally identify genetic abnormalities that might influence the clinical care of an individual. These statements and recommendations have been developed to help investigators when they are informed of any such incidental findings.

  1. GENEVA Statement on Incidental Findings
  2. GENEVA Aneuploidy Reference Table
  3. GENEVA Pharmacogenetic Variants Reference Table

Study Inclusion/Exclusion Criteria

Aged 45-64 at baseline

Molecular Data
TypeSourcePlatformNumber of Oligos/SNPsSNP Batch IdComment
Whole Genome Genotyping Affymetrix AFFY_6.0 934940 52074
Study History

The cohort was examined at 4 clinic visits:
Visit 1: 1987-89
Visit 2: 1990-92
Visit 3: 1993-95
Visit 4: 1996-98

Selected publications
Diseases/Traits Related to Study (MESH terms)
Authorized Data Access Requests
Study Attribution