LGB Adults More Likely to Have Poor Cardiovascular Health

A recent study found that the majority of their self-identified lesbian, gay, and bisexual subjects had poor cardiovascular health.

The study, presented at the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Epidemiology and Lifestyle conference, used data from 2,445 adults who participated in the 2011-2012 National Health Examination and Nutrition Survey. 5% of the sample identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual. Researchers analyzed responses to relevant questions (such as those about smoking habits, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels) to categorize individual subjects as having ideal, intermediate, or poor cardiovascular health and found that 55% of gay men and lesbians and 43.8% of bisexuals were in poor cardiovascular health, compared to 39.9% of heterosexuals.

Anshul Saxena, the lead author of the study, told the AHA that these results highlight the need for primary care providers to help their LGB patients improve cardiovascular health. He noted the importance of a welcoming care environment to “allow lesbian, gay and bisexual patients to feel better understood or willing to disclose [health concerns] and subsequently improve their care and health outcomes.”

More research is needed to fully understand the risk that LGB people face when it comes to cardiovascular health, but these study results are consistent with previous findings. A 2017 review article of studies about cardiovascular disease in sexual minorities reported that sexual minority women were more likely than sexual minority men to engage in behaviors that increase risk of cardiovascular disease and that LGB adults engaged in more of these behaviors than heterosexual adults overall.

Dr. Billy Caceres, the lead author on the review article, told the AHA that these findings have important implications both for providers and for heart disease and stroke awareness campaigns targeted to LGB communities around the country. Currently, he noted, there is no system in place that “really focuses on cardiovascular health in LGB people.”

You can access the AHA’s report here: https://news.heart.org/attention-paid-heart-health-lesbian-gay-bisexual-adults-study-suggests/

You can access the 2017 review article here: http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2016.303630