Prevention is at the core of our research on cardiovascular disease and its manifestations, such as hypertension, coronary artery disease, and stroke.

Our investigators design and conduct large-scale interventions to help members reduce their risk levels by improving diet and exercise, losing weight, and quitting smoking. We also study the medical costs and effectiveness of drugs that prevent strokes and lower blood pressure and cholesterol. This work has been a focus of our research portfolio since 1973, when we conducted the Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial, our first national collaborative clinical trial.

Another national trial, Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), compared a low-fat diet that was high in fruits and vegetables to a typical American diet and to a diet high in fruits and vegetables only. The DASH diet was found to lower blood pressure to the same extent as medication, and results were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Following up directly on DASH, the PREMIER study combined the same diet with reductions in sodium, increases in exercise, and other lifestyle changes. In a paper also published in JAMA, the study team reported that adding this program to the DASH diet yielded further blood-pressure reductions and health improvements. PREMIER was followed by the Weight Loss Maintenance Trial, which examined different methods for helping people maintain weight loss.

Featured Studies

Health and Economic Effects of Light Rail Lines: A Natural Experiment

In this five-year study, we are studying how a new rail line affects people’s health and the cost of their health care in Portland, Oregon. We will compare health outcomes and costs among 4,000 members of the Kaiser Permanente health plan who live near the rail line to health and costs among a similar group who live elsewhere, both before and after the rail line opens. We will compare body mass index, blood pressure, and cholesterol among the two groups to see whether living near the new rail line leads to improved health and lower health care costs.


Stephen Fortmann, MD
Principal Investigator
Funder: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Economic Impact of Achieving Cardiometabolic Risk Factor Goals in Type 2 Diabetes

This study builds on our recent research examining associations between combinations of factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol level, and A1C control and cardiovascular-disease hospitalization. In this work, we will assess the proportion of type 2 diabetes patients who achieve HbA1C levels <7%, systolic blood pressure <130 mmHg, and LDL cholesterol <100 mg/dL, alone and in all possible combinations, as well as the proportion that achieve weight loss of 5% or more. We will also examine medical care costs associated with control of various combinations of cardiometabolic risk factors, including stratifying costs by whether changes to cardiometabolic risk factors are modest or large, or have not changed.


Gregory Nichols, PhD
Principal Investigator
Funder: AstraZeneca

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