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What is MESA?

MESA (Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis) is an important medical research study that involves more than 6,000 men and women from six communities in the United States. Participants in MESA come from diverse race and ethnic groups, including African Americans, Latinos, Asians, and Caucasians.

MESA is sponsored by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health. The study is conducted through the following six universities:

  • Columbia University, New York, New York
  • Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
  • Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois
  • University of California, Los Angeles, California
  • University of Minnesota, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota
  • Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina

MESA started in 1999 and is still following participants today. This long-term study allows researchers to follow the health of participants over time.

MESA Investigators invited residents of the study cities between the ages of 45 and 84 to participate. About 6,418 individuals from these cities were enrolled over a two-year period. Participants have shared information through exams and follow-up surveys since the start of the study.

MESA looks at the early stages of a disease called atherosclerosis. This is also known as "hardening of the arteries." This condition occurs when cholesterol and other substances in the blood stick to the walls of arteries and blood vessels. This can slow down or stop blood circulation. When that happens, heart disease, stroke, and other diseases of the blood vessels might develop.