Harvard Heart Letter

Should you join a research study?

Like legions of earlier volunteers, you could contribute to the quest to improve care for people with heart disease.

research study drug trials
Image: Wavebreakmedia/Thinkstock

Imagine getting a letter from a physician based at a nearby academic medical center, telling you about research under way at the institution. It says you might be eligible to participate in a clinical trial designed to test a new blood pressure drug. Or maybe it's a study on the exercise habits of people ages 65 and older.

You're curious, so you check the box indicating that you're interested in learning more and mail it back.

Nothing obligates you to join a study, but it's an option worth examining. "If you participate in a study, you'll be advancing scientific knowledge to help the next patient like you. In fact, you've already benefited from all the people who took part in earlier clinical research," says Harvard professor Dr. Christopher Cannon, executive director of Cardiometabolic Trials at the Harvard Clinical Research Institute.

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