Heart Attack Research
The NHLBI leads and supports basic research, clinical trials, and large long-term studies related to heart attacks. Our research has helped scientists and doctors better understand the causes of heart attacks and has led to improved treatment options for this condition. We continue to fund research to help find ways to prevent and treat heart attacks in all populations.
NHLBI research that really made a difference
Most heart attacks are caused by coronary heart disease. The NHLBI-funded International Study of Comparative Health Effectiveness with Medical and Invasive Approaches (ISCHEMIA) trial compared various treatment options for coronary heart disease to prevent heart attacks. The trial found that in people who have serious coronary heart disease, medicine and healthy lifestyle changes are as effective as major procedures at reducing the risk of a heart attack. The results of this study will help doctors decide on an appropriate treatment option for people who are at risk of a heart attack.
Learn more about the ISCHEMIA trial: NIH-funded studies show stents and surgery no better than medication, lifestyle changes at reducing cardiac events.
Current research funded by the NHLBI
Our Division of Cardiovascular Sciences and its Adult and Pediatric Cardiac Research Program and Atherothrombosis and Coronary Artery Disease Branch oversee much of the research on heart attacks we fund.
Current research on lowering the risk of a heart attack
The NHLBI supports several long-term studies to better understand the risk factors for a heart attack. These studies are exploring how lifestyle habits, heart and blood vessel diseases, stress, and our genes can raise the risk of a heart attack, and how these risk factors affect different populations. The studies we fund include the following:
- Risk factors for atherosclerosis: The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study and the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) are investigating the causes of atherosclerosis, which can cause heart attacks.
- Heart attack risk in the young: The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study (CARDIA) is focused on finding heart attack risk factors that begin in young adulthood.
- Common contributors to heart disease: The Framingham Heart Study (FHS) is a multi-generational study to find common factors that contribute to cardiovascular disease
- Hispanic/Latino heart health: The Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL) is a comprehensive study of Hispanic and Latino health, including heart health, in the United States.
- African American heart health: The Jackson Heart Study (JHS) is investigating the causes of cardiovascular disease in African-Americans.
- American Indians and cardiovascular disease: The Strong Heart Study (SHS) is a study of cardiovascular disease and its risk factors among American Indian men and women.
- HIV and heart attack risk: Through the NHLBI HIV/AIDS Program and the MACS/WIHS Combined Cohort Study, we are funding research to understand the risk of heart attacks in people living with HIV.
The research we fund will help find effective and targeted ways to manage risk factors to prevent heart attacks. Data from these studies are available through the Biologic Specimen and Data Repository Information Coordinating Center (BioLINCC).
Find more NHLBI-funded studies on the risk factors for heart attacks at NIH RePORTER.
Current research on heart attack treatment
- Anemia treatments after heart attack: The NHLBI funds the Myocardial Ischemia and Transfusion (MINT) clinical trial, which was set up to establish appropriate blood transfusion guidelines to treat anemia in people who have had a heart attack.
- New treatment options: We support research to find new treatments that can help the heart repair and replace damaged tissue after a heart attack. Such treatment options would help improve heart function and prevent complications.
- Inflammation after heart attack: Heart attacks cause inflammation which increases damage to the heart. NHLBI-supported scientists are working to discover new medicines that can prevent or lower inflammation after a heart attack. This will help prevent heart damage and improve recovery.
Find more NHLBI-funded studies on heart attack treatments at NIH RePORTER.
Current research on preventing complications after a heart attack
- Adherence to cardiac rehabilitation: Cardiac rehabilitation can help improve heart function and prevent complications after a heart attack. However, many people do not stick to their cardiac rehabilitation plan. The NHLBI funds research to find out whether providing a case manager and financial rewards can help encourage people to stick to their cardiac rehabilitation plan.
- Insulin resistance after heart attack: Some people develop insulin resistance after having a heart attack. We fund research to discover how a heart attack can cause changes in the body that raise the risk of insulin resistance and diabetes.
- Arrythmias after heart attack: A heart attack can raise the risk of an irregular heartbeat, which can cause cardiac arrest. The NHLBI funds research to understand how a heart attack causes changes to the nerves that control your heartbeat.
Find more NHLBI-funded studies on preventing complications after a heart attack at NIH RePORTER.
Heart attack research labs at the NHLBI
Related heart attack programs
The NHLBI created The Heart Truth® in 2002 to raise awareness about heart disease as the leading cause of death in women. The Heart Truth is focused on making sure that women know about their risk for heart disease and know that healthy lifestyle changes can lower this risk. The program provides free, science-based educational materials and information about heart-healthy living and coordinates activities for American Heart Month.
Explore more NHLBI research on heart attack
The sections above provide you with the highlights of NHLBI-supported research on heart attacks. You can explore the full list of NHLBI-funded studies on the NIH RePORTER.