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Am J Prev Med. 2009 Jul;37(1 Suppl):S9-16. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2009.04.016.

Project HeartBeat! Concept, development, and design.

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  • 1Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4770 Buford Highway NE, Atlanta, GA 30341-3717, USA.


Major cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors begin development in childhood and adolescence. Project HeartBeat! studied early development of these risk factors as growth processes. Growth, body composition, sexual maturation, major CVD risk factors, and cardiac structure and function were monitored every 4 months for up to 4 years among 678 children and adolescents (49.1% girls; 20.1% blacks) aged 8, 11, or 14 years at study entry. All resided in The Woodlands or Conroe TX. Interviews were conducted at entry and annually on diet, physical activity, and health history of participants and their families. Data were collected from 1991 to 1995, and study investigators continue data analysis and reporting. Overlap in ages at examination among three cohorts (aged 8-12, 11-15, and 14-18 years at baseline) and use of multilevel modeling methods permit analysis of some 5500 observations on each principal variable for the synthetic cohort from ages 8 to 18 years. The mixed-longitudinal design provides trajectories of change with age, for total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglycerides; systolic, and fourth-phase and fifth-phase diastolic blood pressure, and left ventricular mass. These trajectories are then related to concurrent measures of multiple indices of body composition and sexual maturation and adjusted for energy intake and physical activity. The data provide valuable insights into risk factor development and suggest a fresh approach to understanding influences on blood lipids, blood pressure, and left ventricular mass during the period of childhood and adolescence, a period of dynamic change in these risk factors.

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