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Stanford Medicine

Cardiovascular Medicine, Women's Health

Women underrepresented in heart studies

Since 1993, the National Institutes of Health has mandated that women and minorities be included in all of its clinical research studies – yet women continue to be underrepresented in certain trials. Last year, researchers reported in the journal Cancer that women make up 38.8 percent of participants in major cancer trials. And a new study in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes shows that men also outnumber women in clinical trials used to formulate guidelines to prevent cardiovascular disease: only 30 percent of the patient population in these studies are female.

Why should be concerned by these numbers? As described in a release from the American Heart Association:

Women account for at least half the deaths in the affected patient
populations studied-“a proportion that is strikingly higher than their representation in the trials supporting the guidelines-thereby underscoring the importance of having adequate representation of women in clinical trials to solidify the evidence base supporting practice guidelines.”

Previously: Gap exists in women’s knowledge of heart disease

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