Why LGBTQ adults are more vulnerable to heart disease


Researchers sometimes refer to allostatic load, the cumulative toll chronic stress takes on the brain and body, said Scott Bertani, director of advocacy at HealthHIV, a nonprofit focused on promoting prevention. and care for those at risk of contracting HIV. to reason that our body reacts to these really complex and difficult life events and demands,” he said. For example, he added, going out, and in some cases going out repeatedly, is often accompanied by intense stress.

To deal with the constant threat of discrimination or harassment, many members of the LGBTQ community self-medicate with drugs like tobacco and alcohol, said Dr. Streed, who is also a researcher at the Center for Transgender. Boston Medical Center Medicine and Surgery. These industries have targeted the LGBTQ community through advertising, he said, particularly during Pride month. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about 25% of lesbian, gay or bisexual adults used a commercial tobacco product in 2020, compared to 18.8% of heterosexual adults, a disparity the agency attributes in part to the the tobacco industry’s long history of aggressive marketing. campaigns.

Research has also identified a link between sleep and heart health, Dr. Caceres said. A growing body of evidence shows that LGBTQ adults experience more sleep problems and interruptions than the general population, which may also be linked to chronic stress.

A 2017 survey of nearly 500 LGBTQ adults by researchers from Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that more than one in six said they avoid health care because he feared discrimination. This hesitation means LGBTQ adults are less likely to access potentially life-saving preventative health care, Dr. Michos said. All adults should be screened for cardiovascular risk factors at least once a year, which is usually part of an annual physical exam, she said.

According to experts, finding medical providers you feel comfortable and safe with can be key to preventing heart disease. Dr. Streed recommends LGBTQ adults seek out supportive physicians. The Gay and Lesbian Medical Association offers a directory on its website that allows patients to find medical professionals. The Human Rights Campaign creates an annual Health Care Equality Index – a list of healthcare facilities that claim to include LGBTQ patients.

Although gender-affirming hormones have been shown to positively impact mental health, Dr. Michos said, there is evidence that high amounts of testosterone and estrogen may have cardiovascular risks. People taking these hormones should talk to their doctor about how to maintain heart health.

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