If you have heart disease, a clinical trial may be an option for you. A clinical trial is a study using people who agree to participate in new tests or treatments. Clinical trials help researchers know whether a new treatment works well and is safe. Trials are available for many heart-related conditions.
If you join a trial, you may get treatment that can help you. Plus, you will help others to learn more about your heart disease as well as new tests or treatments. There are many things to consider before joining a trial. Learn about why you might want to enroll in a clinical trial and where to find one.
Clinical trial goals
Clinical trials for heart disease look at ways to:
- Prevent heart disease
- Screen or test for heart disease
- Treat or manage heart disease
- Reduce symptoms or side effects of heart disease or heart disease treatments
A clinical trial will recruit many people to participate. During the study, each group of people will receive a different test or treatment. Some will get the new treatment being tested. Others will get standard treatment. The researchers will collect the results to see what works best.
Current medicines, tests and treatments used by most health care providers have been tested through clinical trials.
The decision to join a clinical trial is a personal one. It is a decision you have to make based on your values, goals and expectations. Plus, there are benefits and risks when you join a trial.
Some of the benefits include:
- You may receive a new treatment that is not yet available to other people.
- You may receive treatment that is better than what is currently available.
- You will receive close attention and monitoring by your providers.
- You will help researchers understand your heart disease and learn better ways to help other people with the same condition.
Some of the potential risks include:
- You may experience side effects.
- The new treatment may not work for you.
- The new treatment may not be as good as standard treatment.
- You may need more office visits and more tests.
- Your insurance may not pay for all of your costs in a clinical trial.
There are strict federal rules in place to protect your safety during a clinical trial. Safety guidelines (protocols) are agreed to before the study begins. These guidelines are reviewed by health experts to make sure that the study is based on good science and the risks are low. Clinical trials are also monitored during the entire study.
Before you join a clinical trial, you will learn about the safety guidelines, what is expected of you and how long the study will last. You will be asked to sign a consent form saying that you understand and agree to the way the study will be run and the potential side effects.
Before you join a trial, make sure you look into which costs are covered. Routine care costs are often covered by health insurance. You should review your policy and contact your health plan to make sure. Often, your health plan will cover most routine office visits and consults, as well as tests done to monitor your health.
Research costs, such as the study medicine, or extra visits or tests, may need to be covered by the research sponsor. Also keep in mind that extra visits and tests may mean additional cost to you in lost work time and daycare or transportation costs.
Each clinical study has guidelines about who can join. This is called eligibility criteria. These guidelines are based on what questions the researchers are trying to answer. Studies often try to include people who have certain things in common. This can make it easier to understand the results. So you may be able to join only if you have heart disease at a certain stage, are older or younger than a certain age, and do not have other health problems.
If you are eligible, you can apply to be in the clinical trial. Once accepted, you become a volunteer. This means that you may quit at any time. But if you feel you want to quit, be sure you talk it over with your provider first.