Health + Wellness

Do You Have High Cholesterol? You May be Able to Join a Clinical Research Study –

high cholesterol

Heart disease, which includes heart attacks and strokes, is the leading cause of death for adults in the United States.¹ It’s also important to note that more Black adults die from heart disease than any other racial and ethnic group in the U.S.²

One of the key things that can raise your chance of developing heart disease is high cholesterol, which is when you have high amounts of low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C) in your blood. LDL-C is often called “bad cholesterol.”

If you have a high amount of LDL-C, cholesterol or fatty deposits (called plaque) can stick to the walls of your arteries. This causes the arteries to narrow, which lowers or blocks the flow of blood. High LDL-C, if not treated, can lead to a type of heart disease called atherosclerosis, which can raise your chance of having a heart attack or stroke. 

“Historically, people from some racial and ethnic communities have been left out of clinical research. It’s hard for researchers to learn more about investigational medicines when they do not know whether they work in all people,” said Adrelia Allen, Executive Director of Clinical Trial Patient Diversity at Merck. “It’s important to have equity in clinical studies. This means that the people in the studies should represent the people who are most likely to have the health condition and may need the study medicine the most.”

PCSK9 inhibitors are medications to help treat high cholesterol. Researchers are studying an investigational PCSK9 inhibitor that people can take as a pill once a day by mouth instead of as a shot. Currently, there are clinical studies looking at the safety of this investigational medicine and whether it works. These studies will help researchers better understand whether this medicine can lower LDL-C and the chance of adverse cardiovascular events.

Researchers are looking for people to join these studies. To qualify, you must be aged 18 or older and you either:

  • Take a statin medicine to lower cholesterol, but still need to lower your LDL-C
  • Have a high chance of having a heart attack or stroke and have high cholesterol even after taking a statin for at least a month 
  • Have familial hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol inherited from your parents) and have high cholesterol even after taking a statin for at least a month 

If you join one of these clinical studies, you’ll get the study medicine and study-related medical exams for no cost. You’ll also be paid back for any travel-related study costs, such as bus fare or gas for driving to and from the study site. You don’t need health insurance to join.

“These ongoing clinical studies will help us understand whether our investigational once-daily oral PCSK9 inhibitor will be an effective treatment for certain people with high cholesterol,” said Dr. Robert Blaustein, Associate Vice President for Clinical Research, Merck Research Laboratories. “I encourage anyone who meets the eligibility criteria to speak with your health care provider to see if one of the clinical studies may be suitable for you.”

Ask your doctor if you may be able to join one of these clinical studies. For more information, visit


 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Heart disease. Heart disease facts. Accessed December 12, 2023.

2 Mensah GA. Cardiovascular diseases in African Americans: fostering community partnerships to stem the tide. Am J Kidney Dis. 2018;72(5 Suppl 1):S37-S42. Accessed December 12, 2023.

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