The persistent exclusion of older patients from ongoing clinical trials regarding heart failure

Antonio Cherubini, Joaquim Oristrell, Xavier Pla, Carmelinda Ruggiero, Roberta Ferretti, Germán Diestre, A. Mark Clarfield, Peter Crome, Cees Hertogh, Vita Lesauskaite, Gabriel Ioan Prada, Katarzyna Szczerbinska, Eva Topinkova, Judith Sinclair-Cohen, David Edbrooke, Gary H. Mills

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Much clinical research of relevance to elderly patients examines individuals who are younger than those who have the disease in question. A good example is heart failure. Therefore, we investigated the extent of exclusion of older individuals in ongoing clinical trials regarding heart failure. Methods: In the context of the Increasing the PaRticipation of the ElDerly in Clinical Trials (PREDICT) study, data from ongoing clinical trials regarding heart failure were extracted from the World Health Organization Clinical Trials Registry Platform on December 1, 2008. Main outcome measures were the proportion of trials excluding patients by an arbitrary upper age limit or by other exclusion criteria that might indirectly cause limited recruitment of older individuals. We classified exclusion criteria into 2 categories: justified or poorly justified. Results: Among 251 trials investigating treatments for heart failure, 64 (25.5%) excluded patients by an arbitrary upper age limit. Such exclusion was significantly more common in trials conducted in the European Union than in the United States (31/96 [32.3%] vs 17/105 [16.2%]; P=.007) and in drug trials sponsored by public institutions vs those by private entities (21/59 [35.6%] vs 5/36 [13.9%]; P=.02). Overall, 109 trials (43.4%) on heart failure had 1 or more poorly justified exclusion criteria that could limit the inclusion of older individuals. A similar proportion of clinical trials with poorly justified exclusion criteria was found in pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic trials. Conclusion: Despite the recommendations of national and international regulatory agencies, exclusion of older individuals from ongoing trials regarding heart failure continues to be widespread.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)550-556
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Internal Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Mar 28 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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