Heart and vascular research

At Kaiser Permanente, your care begins before you walk through the door. Our researchers, specialists, and doctors work together to give you care backed by the latest science. This helps your care team quickly include best practices and give you the latest treatments.

We study every aspect of human health — and we don’t miss a beat when researching heart conditions. Below you’ll learn how our cardiology and cardiovascular research improves care for heart conditions and helps save lives.

Leading cardiology research

Our study of cardiovascular disease is ongoing. Scientists in our cardiovascular research centers use rich, comprehensive data to gain knowledge about heart risks and improve patient outcomes. Their research has led to the publication of more than 1,900 articles related to cardiovascular disease since 2007.1

Findings from these articles, which have been cited over 110,000 times, shape improved industry policies and practices. And because of our integrated care system, our doctors use this research to give our members the latest high-quality care in our hospitals.

All 39 of our hospitals are consistently named among the nation’s best — most recently in U.S. News & World Report’s 2022–23 Best Hospitals rankings.2


Connecting to care

Cardiovascular research initiatives

Several researchers looking at computer

Clinical research studies

Our scientists and physician researchers are helping advance cardiac care for people throughout the U.S. Kaiser Permanente has 185 research scientists and 1,530 support staff members based at 9 research centers, so we get information on a large and diverse range of participants. Learn more about our cardiovascular research and how you might be able to get involved.

Patient talking to doctor

Cardiology clinical trials

Our doctors and cardiologists develop clinical trials to test new therapies. They also share successful results with Kaiser Permanente care teams across the nation. Thanks to this collaboration, members get treatment that’s backed by the latest science. See how we’re finding better ways to prevent, detect, and treat cardiovascular disease and improve outcomes.

Researcher talking to a patient

Support for participants

Volunteering for clinical research in cardiology is an important decision. Learn how we support members before, during, and after a research study or clinical trial.

Cardiac research quick facts

Illustration of 5 members of a care team surrounding and examining a large red heart

Our members are 33% less likely to die early

from heart disease3


Illustration of medication containers and a glucose monitor

Top 5% nationally in statin therapy

across the country in communities we serve for members with diabetes4


Illustration of a microscope, graph, and a medical office

2,355 studies currently underway

including clinical trials

Clinical research studies

A clinical research study helps improve our understanding of heart disease risks and find better ways to detect and treat different types of heart conditions.

Our research teams, doctors, and other health care professionals work together to turn findings from these studies into improved care for people with heart conditions. They also quickly share new or updated protocols with cardiologists throughout Kaiser Permanente. That way, our patients benefit from the most advanced treatment as soon as possible. And we share our findings beyond Kaiser Permanente, which helps improve care for everyone in the broader community. 

Depending on your situation, you may be able to volunteer for a research study. Each study has unique eligibility requirements. Your doctor can help you decide if there’s one that’s right for you.

Our large member population is ideal for researchers. It allows them to tap into a diverse range of anonymous data to advance their studies. Our many board-certified specialists also lead their own studies and can consult and partner on research. This collaboration helps push research forward quickly. We put our successes into practice faster to help improve your cardiac care.

We also improve cardiac care through our Medical Device Surveillance and Assessment program. Modern cardiac devices, like pacemakers, can send doctors information about your heart rate and rhythm. They help show your doctor how your heart is doing and if you need any changes in your treatment. By partnering with doctors, our researchers can check everything from patient outcomes to the power of new and existing technologies. We can also use medical device data to assess and deliver the best clinical practices for cardiac care.

Here’s some more information on the progress our researchers have made for cardiovascular disease:

If you’re interested in getting involved in our cardiovascular research, here are some ways to get started:

  • Talk to your doctor about research studies specific to your condition. Your doctor can help determine your eligibility.
  • Browse the KPStudySearch website. You’ll find current research studies and clinical trials that need participants. 
  • Join the Kaiser Permanente Research Bank. Help drive medical breakthroughs by becoming part of one of the largest biobanks in the country. Just complete a brief health survey and provide a blood sample. Our researchers will use your anonymous information in their heart research.

Not every patient chooses to participate in research. Your doctor can help you understand your options. And you’ll never be signed up for a study without your knowledge and consent.

Cardiology clinical trials

A cardiology clinical trial is a research study designed to improve treatment for people with heart conditions. 

Clinical trials give patients with heart conditions access to cutting-edge treatment and medications in a safe environment. These new treatments are studied in labs before our patients start them. The doctors who conduct clinical trials follow a carefully designed treatment plan. Each treatment plan outlines what will be done in the trial and the research questions it will try to answer. They also help protect participants’ health.

In the case of new heart medications, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires many rounds of clinical trials before it approves any drug to become available to the public. Each trial shows researchers the effects of a medication on different groups of people. This helps them create treatments that work for a more diverse range of patients.

People join clinical trials for different reasons. For some, a clinical trial could relieve or help find a cure for their symptoms. For others, clinical trials help them actively participate in their treatment and rehabilitation while improving therapies for future patients. Each clinical trial has specific guidelines about who can take part.

Learn more about how clinical trials work.

Like our other research studies, our clinical trials benefit from Kaiser Permanente’s large membership and the diverse communities we serve. We’re able to include patients of many different ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds in our clinical trials. This helps us study the effects of a new treatment or medication on an extremely wide range of patients.

We hold clinical trials in specific regions and for certain heart conditions or stages of cardiovascular disease. As a Kaiser Permanente member, you may be eligible for one of our clinical trials. Keep in mind that taking part in a clinical trial may not always benefit you directly. But the results can contribute to helping other people with the same condition.

Check out our clinical trial frequently asked questions.

The decision to volunteer for a clinical trial is a personal one. We recommend you talk to your doctor, family members, and friends before you decide. 

If you're interested in joining a clinical trial, here’s how to get started:

  • Talk to your care team. Your doctor will help find out if there’s a trial that may be right for you.
  • Browse the KPStudySearch website. You’ll find clinical trials and research studies in your area. You can also sign up to get email alerts about new clinical trials. Be sure to select the type of cardiology trials you want to get emails about. 

Not every patient chooses to participate in a clinical trial. Your doctor can help you understand if a clinical trial makes sense as an alternative to standard treatment. And you’ll never be signed up for a trial without your knowledge and consent.


Support for participants

Before starting a research study or clinical trial, you’ll get an informed consent document. It explains the details of the study and the possible risks and benefits. It also outlines your rights and responsibilities.

A member of the research team will then meet with you. This gives you a chance to talk about the study and ask any questions. Then you can make an informed decision about whether to take part. During the study, you always have the right to ask questions. You also have the right to stop participating at any time.

If you’re thinking about taking part, here are some questions to ask the research team to help you make an informed decision:

  • What’s the purpose of the study?
  • What kinds of tests and treatments will be used?
  • What are my other options for treatment?
  • What side effects can I expect?
  • How long will the study last?

An institutional review board (IRB) approves and tracks most clinical trials in the U.S. IRB committees include doctors, statisticians, patient advocates, and other community members. Their goal is to make sure each study is ethical and the risks as low as possible.

An IRB can stop any study that seems to be causing unexpected harm to participants. It can also stop a study early if there's clear evidence the new treatment is effective. This helps researchers make treatments available as soon as possible to people outside of the study who may benefit.

Kaiser Permanente conducts all research studies in compliance with regulatory and ethical guidelines. Each study has oversight by our regional IRBs and compliance groups. Your local research center can help if you have any questions about your participation.

Our research teams work out of 8 regional research centers and the Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine. Each facility leads local programs in support of our major cardiovascular research initiatives. They also support members involved in our research studies, as well as their families.

Explore your local research center to learn more about the researchers and heart studies in your area:

Advancing cardiac care

Promoting heart health through research

Kaiser Permanente research seeks to reduce heart disease by finding better ways to prevent, detect, and treat high blood pressure, known as a “silent killer.” Hear epidemiologist Kristi Reynolds, PhD, MPH, describe her research on high blood pressure, a key risk factor for heart disease, and how her work is helping to improve the health of members and the broader community.

Latest cardiac research news

senior couple look at phone

Finding a research study or clinical trial

If you’re interested in participating in cardiovascular research at Kaiser Permanente, browse our research and clinical trials database to see what our researchers are working on today. Depending on your situation, you may be able to get involved in a study in your area.


1Kaiser Permanente Publications Library (KPPL) Search conducted on November 29, 2021: (dc.title:cardiac OR dc.title:cardiovascular OR dc.title:cerebrovascular OR dc.title:heart OR dc.title:stroke OR dc.subject.mesh:”aortic diseases” OR dc.subject.mesh:aneurysm OR dc.subject.mesh:”atrial fibrillation” OR dc.subject.mesh:”brain infarction” OR dc.subject.mesh:”brain ischemia” OR dc.subject.mesh:”cardiovascular abnormalities” OR dc.subject.mesh:”cardiovascular diseases” OR dc.subject.mesh:”cardiovascular infections” OR dc.subject.mesh:cerebrovascular OR dc.subject.mesh:”embolism and thrombosis” OR dc.subject.mesh:”heart diseases” OR dc.subject.mesh:hypertension OR dc.subject.mesh:”intracranial arterial diseases” OR dc.subject.mesh:”intracranial hemorrhages” OR dc.subject.mesh:”pregnancy complications, cardiovascular” OR dc.subject.mesh:stroke OR dc.subject.mesh:”vascular diseases”) AND dc.type:”Journal Article” AND dc.date.issued:[2007 2022] 

2“Best Hospitals by Specialty,” U.S. News & World Report, accessed March 15, 2023, https://health.usnews.com/best-hospitals/rankings.

3Elizabeth A. McGlynn, PhD, et al., “Measuring Premature Mortality Among Kaiser Permanente Members Compared to the Community,” Kaiser Permanente, July 20, 2022.

4Kaiser Permanente 2022 HEDIS® scores. Benchmarks provided by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) Quality Compass® and represent all lines of business. Kaiser Permanente combined region scores were provided by the Kaiser Permanente Department of Care and Service Quality. The source for data contained in this publication is Quality Compass 2022 and is used with the permission of NCQA. Quality Compass 2022 includes certain CAHPS data. Any data display, analysis, interpretation, or conclusion based on these data is solely that of the authors, and NCQA specifically disclaims responsibility for any such display, analysis, interpretation, or conclusion. Quality Compass® and HEDIS® are registered trademarks of NCQA. CAHPS® is a registered trademark of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.