Studies have shown that heart disease takes a greater toll on certain racial and ethnic groups, yet historically, large-scale clinical trials in cardiology have included disproportionately low numbers of women and minorities. As a result, physicians have had little data on which to base their clinical decisions when treating these patients.
This is why Boston Scientific initiated the PLATINUM Diversity trial, one of the first clinical studies of its kind—to identify the disparities experienced by women and minorities undergoing coronary stenting procedures as compared to white males. The intent of the study was to provide insights to help physicians create treatment plans tailored to patients’ individual demographic and socioeconomic situations.
At the recent 31st Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics (TCT), the annual scientific symposium of the Cardiovascular Research Foundation, new data from the PLATINUM Diversity trial was presented that show minority patients are more likely to stop their dual anti-platelet therapy following a coronary stenting procedure (when compared to white males). Early discontinuation puts these patients at a greater risk for potential adverse events and is leading investigators to look further into why this may be happening.
While this study focused on coronary artery disease, public health data on a variety of health issues shows that Americans of different backgrounds with the same diagnosis can have markedly different outcomes. In order to achieve the goal of health equity, we need to better understand not only these differences, but what causes them. These findings can serve as the basis of action for interventional cardiologists, cardiologists and primary care physicians, as well as the stakeholder groups focused on health equity among women and minority communities in the United States.
Until physicians and care providers are equipped to address the root causes of care disparities, women and minority patients will continue to face disproportionately challenging healthcare struggles and potentially miss receiving viable treatment options.
Additionally, as part of this year’s TCT conference, Boston Scientific convened a candid discussion with a panel of leading physicians on ways to address barriers to care. In addition to identifying ways that industry and physicians can work together, panelists called for more diversity within the healthcare professional ranks and discussed the implications of implicit physician bias.
For over a decade, Boston Scientific has had a dedicated health equity initiative called Close the Gap focused on empowering physicians to reduce health inequities among underserved populations. We look to understand and address these gaps in care by collaborating with and training physicians, partnering with advocacy groups, and raising patient awareness around heart health. More information about Close the Gap is available here.