For the new study, investigators analyzed 281 stroke trials, which included at least 100 patients each and were conducted between 1990 and 2020.
Of the nearly 590,000 total participants, 37.4% were women. However, the average stroke in women in the countries where the studies were conducted was 48%, according to the report published in the journal on 13 October Neurology.
“Ensuring that there are enough women in clinical trials to accurately reflect the percentage of women who have strokes may have implications for future treatment recommendations for women affected by this serious condition,” said the study’s author, Dr. . Cheryl Carcel, of the George Institute for Global said. Health, in Sydney, Australia.
“If one generation is underrepresented in clinical trials, it limits the way you can apply the results to the general public and could potentially restrict access to new therapies,” Carcel explained in a news release.
The overall 0.84 ratio of women in stroke trials did not change during the study period. A ratio of one would mean that the percentage of women in stroke trials matches the percentage of women with stroke in the general population.
The lowest ratios were in: trials of a type of bleeding stroke called intracerebral haemorrhage (0.73); trials in which the average patient was younger than 70 (0.81); tests of non-acute interventions (0.80); and rehabilitation trials (0.77).
“Our findings have implications for how women with stroke may be treated in the future, as women usually have a poorer functional outcome after a stroke and need more supportive care,” Carcel said.
“We will only gain a more equitable representation of women in clinical trials if researchers look at the barriers that prevent women from enrolling in studies and actively recruiting more women,” she added. “People who fund the research should also demand more reliable, gender-balanced evidence.”
The researchers noted that because the study included only clinical trials registered on a U.S. government website, it may not have included all stroke trials.
The US Office of Women’s Health has more on this stroke.
SOURCE: Neurology, news release, 13 October 2021