Health Discoveries in Clinical trials

Lack of women in cardiovascular studies shares blame for disparities in heart care

February 12, 2010
A report outlining disparities in how men and women are diagnosed and treated for cardiovascular disease in part blames the lack of women involved in clinical trials for the disease.

According to Women in Innovations (WIN), a group of interventional cardiologists, only 20 to 25 percent of the participants in cardiovascular trials nationwide are women.

"The majority of data from clinical trials is based on a population of mostly male participants, and as a result, women are being treated according to data based on men," said co-author Dr. Roxana Mehran of Columbia University. "With this information, it's not surprising women's outcomes are significantly worse than men's after treatment."

The WINHeart initiative is drawing attention to the differences in diagnosis, treatment and survival of women with heart disease, although men and women are affected equally by the disease. A WINHeart survey found only 10 percent of women said their doctor talked to them about participating in a clinical trial when they were diagnosed with heart disease.

Dr. Stacey Rosen, whose cardiology practice is part of the North Shore-LIJ Health System, agrees that having women in trials is relatively new. "The National Institutes of Health now include some women in cardiology trials," she said. "That wasn't the case 10 or 15 years ago."
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