The service of thousands of Canadian fighter pilots from the Second World War lives on in what's been billed as the world's longest running medical study.

Nearly seven decades ago, researchers at the University of Manitoba began tracking the health of almost 4,000 servicemen in an effort to study heart disease.

The Manitoba Follow-Up Study is still going today, with the remaining participants in their nineties helping researchers who took over the work from the scientists who launched the study.

The research has contributed to a greater understanding of both cardiovascular disease and aging. More than 50 peer-reviewed findings based on this study have been published in medical journals.

The participants, fighter pilots and men who flew bombing missions, began by undergoing EKGs and filling out questionnaires. Of the 3,983 that were initially enrolled, about 350 study subjects are still alive.

Participant Harry Hardy flew 92 missions during the war and recently celebrated his 92nd birthday.

He says it "gave us peace of mind, knowing somebody was keeping track of our health."

The researchers hope to continue the study for as long as there are original participants still alive.

With files from CTV's Manitoba Bureau Chief Jill Macyshon