Much of medical research has focused on the ‘bikini approach‘ to women’s health: breasts and reproductive organs. And the University of Toronto’s Dr. Wendy Tsang’s studies on heart research has found that, although women comprise 53% of patients with cardiovascular disease, in clinical trials they represented only:
- 29% of subjects with coronary artery disease
- 25% with congestive heart disease
- 34% with cardiac arrhythmias
We need to change that. Women MUST get involved in cardiac research if we are to see improvements in diagnostics and treatment of our heart disease.
Before 1993, studies that tested new drugs had special eligibility criteria that prohibited women from participating. Those criteria have been dropped and women are now eligible to participate in studies.
We do not know why heart disease kills more women over 50 years old than men of the same age. Almost nothing is known about this because, until recently, almost all cardiac research was done using white, middle-aged men as subjects.
This is now beginning to change, and we can help researchers find out more, if not for ourselves, then for our mothers, our sisters, our friends and especially for our daughters.
As Dr. Nieca Goldberg writes:
“When it comes to heart disease, women are not just small men.”
Examples of women’s heart disease studies that are now recruiting:
- Consider volunteering for the WARRIOR study (Women’s IschemiA TRial to Reduce Events In Non-ObstRuctive CAD) taking place in about 50 different hospital sites in the U.S. if you’re a woman who, within the past three years, has experienced symptoms of suspected ischemia that have prompted a referral for further evaluation by cardiac catheterization or coronary angiogram or coronary CT angiogram within 3 years from consent, or if you’ve been told that you have non-obstructive coronary artery disease (defined as less than 50% diameter reduction of a major blood vessel). More info about the WARRIOR study and how you can sign up here.
- Recruiting two groups of participants for a continuing WISE study by Dr. Noel Bairey Merz at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles: Group 1 – symptomatic women (over age 18) undergoing coronary angiography for suspected ischemia and no obstructive coronary artery disease will be recruited. Group 2 – women and men (over age 18) hospitalized for heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) who have not yet undergone coronary angiography will also be recruited. More info about WISE CVD – Continuation (WISE HFpEF) studies on the Clinical Trials.gov website:
- Women who are 50 or older, who have had a heart attack, and are also living with diabetes are being recruited for the TACT2 study. The original 2013 TACT study from Columbia University researchers reported surprising results: a marked reduction in cardiovascular events with certain heart patients undergoing something called EDTA chelation. TACT2 is sponsored by Mt. Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach; the team is seeking at least 600 women who meet the study’s criteria (as above) living near many clinical sites located throughout the U.S. and Canada in an effort to confirm the TACT findings. This research is open to both men and women, but so far fewer than 25% of subjects are women. NOTE: Recruitment for this study has been suspended due to COVID-19. Find out more about the TACT2 Study.
- Women diagnosed with Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD) are being recruited for a Canadian study based in seven cities nationwide, led by cardiologist Dr. Jaqueline Saw in Vancouver. Canadian SCAD Study.
- Young women (19-55 years of age) with non-obstructive coronary artery disease: Prospective Registry of Young Women With Myocardial Infarction: Evaluating the Prevalence and Longterm Impact of Non-Atherosclerotic CAD (PRYME)
- Women or men over age 18 who have signs and symptoms of myocardial ischemia and angina or angina equivalent (chest pain, abnormal stress testing, abnormal noninvasive testing) or microvascular angina: Heart Disease of the Small Arteries in Women and Men. Cedars Sinai Hospital, Los Angeles, California.
- Women or men with a suspected Ischemic Heart Disease referred to the cath lab for undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention (angioplasty): Sex and Gender Differences in Ischemic Heart Disease – Endocrine Vascular Disease Approach (EVA) Rome, Italy.
Young pre-menopausal women with heart disease have twice the rate of death compared to men of the same age. You may be eligible for this study if you are under age 55, pre-menopausal, and have had clinically-indicated coronary angiography within the last 24 months prior to enrollment with no interim change in symptoms, hospitalization, or events. Cedars Sinai Women’s Heart Center, Los Angeles, California. Estrogen Deficiency and Cardiovascular Disease in Premenopausal Women
Living in British Columbia? Find out more from Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute’s “Participate in Research“ initiative!
Visit ClinicalTrials.gov for more information about current research studies, or in Canada visit this Clinical Trials Database.
Please consider participating in heart research.
See also: Are Women Being Left Behind in Cardiac Research? and Cardiac Research: Where Did All The Women Go?
4 thoughts on “Cardiac research”
I believe women are left out of heart disease studies, etc. because: 1) Most heart doctors and research specialists are men and 2) Women are ignored when we finally do see a cardiologist or go to the ER.
I know I have been (in both cases)! I think I’ll faint when, and if, I’m finally diagnosed! I know I have unstable angina, and am on meds but everyone keeps saying I’m too young, etc. (I’m 52)! Very frustrating.
Hi Denise – Frustrating indeed! Women are under-represented in cardiac research for so many reasons. For example, we are asked to participate less often than males are. And although women do volunteer to participate in hormone or breast cancer research trials, we are not volunteering to participate in cardiac research. It’s not just men who don’t think of heart disease as a women’s problem!
I want to be part of a study on apical hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, but so far haven’t found one. In fact, as of now I have found only one published study that involved sizable numbers (about 100) and that is cited in journal articles, along with single case descriptions and a very few studies that involved much lower numbers (about 11-20). One letter in reply to an article pointed out problems with that article’s analysis and conclusions drawn from existing studies, and was a plea for more published information, even case studies, as there is very little data. Let’s call it Rare Condition Research Syndrome.
Hi Kathleen – that’s the trouble with rare diseases: there simply aren’t lots of people to either include in studies, or to benefit from studies’ conclusions (relative to non-rare disease) Have you checked out the NIH Office of Rare Disease Resources yet?
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