SARASOTA – Genetics control your race, hair, eye color, and even diseases you’re at risk of developing. Now researchers with the Platinum Diversity Study are finding that race and gender play a big role in cardiovascular care.

One in four women will die of heart disease, and female minorities are at an even greater risk.

In the Platinum Diversity Study, doctors looked at patients of coronary stent procedures across 52 sites nationwide. Just one year after the operation, “What we found was that women, in particular minority women, had a higher rate of certain outcomes such as heart attack within a year of undergoing their stent procedure,” says Dr. Wayne Batchelor, Interventional Cardiologist with Southern Medical Group in Tallahassee.

It’s a fourfold increase in minority women compared to white men. Now researchers want to know why. “Both women and minorities have higher rates of diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney disease, and prior history of congestive heart failure,” says Batchelor.

Income plays and big role in health care. “Patients who were in the lower socioeconomic strata tended to have worse outcome and a 70% increase risk in heart attack,” says Batchelor.

So where do we go from here? “There is a lack of information about how to treat patients in their offices,” says Dr. Paul Underwood, Medical Director of Interventional Cardiology at Boston Scientific.

Researchers are diving deeper into the study, hoping to close the health care gap. In the meantime, education is key. “Things patients can do would be to understand more information about their risk factors,” says Underwood, and use that to create a care plan with their physician to prevent heart disease.