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Women remain high-risk of heart diseases, under-represented in clinical trials for treatments

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Posted at 9:08 AM, Aug 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-10 09:08:10-04

CLEVELAND — Heart disease remains the number one cause of death for women around the world across all ages, communities, and colors.

According to doctors at the Cleveland Clinic, women tend to develop certain types of heart disease and show different symptoms like extreme fatigue, shortness of breath, and a feeling like there's a lump in your throat when trying to exercise. Yet the American College of Cardiology Cardiovascular Disease reports women are underrepresented in clinical trials. Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic tell News 5, women typically only make up 30% of clinical trial participants.

“The rate of female participation in some cardiology trials have even dropped over the last couple of years, which is really concerning,” said Dr. Leslie Cho, Director of the Women’s Cardiovascular Center and Head of Preventive Cardiology and Cardiac Rehabilitation at the Cleveland Clinic.

A study published last year found 86 commonly prescribed drugs had different results in women compared to men.

Cho explained differential care, logistical barriers and convenience are among the reasons why women are not included. Women are often not referred to specialty centers for treatment.

“In order to become aware of the trials or even be considered for a trial, you have to be seen in a specialty clinic and women are less likely to do that,” said Cho.

However, the biggest reason may be a lack of trust.

“Every voice matters. Every life matters. And so it's really important to include all people in clinical trials,” said Cho.

So, what's being done to address these differences?

Cho and her team released a new study suggesting more regulators like the FDA and insurance companies need to hold drug companies more accountable while ensuring they include more women in cardiovascular clinical trials as it pertains to medication and treatment.

“Think about your kids and your grandkids and your granddaughters, because they're going to be the ones that benefit from this,” she said.

To get involved in a clinical trial, click here.