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LGBT adults have more heart issues than heterosexuals

Lesbian, gay and bisexual adults have poorer heart health than heterosexuals, new research claims.

The study found that sexual minorities were 36 percent less likely than straight people to have ideal cardiovascular health.

Researchers said this could be due to higher smoking rates and lack of preventative care among lesbian, gay and bisexual adults, which may lead to higher rates of heart disease.

The study, lead by Dr Anshul Saxena, a biostatistician at Baptist Health South Florida in Miami, is the latest to highlight heart health disparities among sexual minorities.

Researchers found that lesbian, gay and bisexual people are more likely to experience cardiovascular disease

Heart disease is the number one killer in the US, while stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death. Despite advances in prevention, diagnosis and treatment, heart disease alone accounts for one out of every four deaths.

‘If confirmed in other studies, our results point towards a disproportionately higher risk for cardiovascular disease among sexual-minority populations,’ said Dr Saxena.

While some cardiovascular risks, such as family history and age, are uncontrollable, many others like obesity, poor diet, and cholesterol are manageable through lifestyle changes.

For the study, Dr Saxena and his colleagues analyzed the data of 2,445 adults over the age of 18 who responded to the 2011-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey – five percent of participants were identified as LGB, and 95 percent as heterosexual. Transgender individuals were not included in the study.

Researchers then compared the seven manageable risks – blood pressure; cholesterol; blood sugar; physical activity; diet; obesity; and smoking – between heterosexuals and those who identified as LGB. 

For each participant, researchers scored each of the seven risks as ideal, intermediate or poor. From these scores, they calculated an overall risk score for cardiovascular health. Participants with ideal scores in five or more risk categories received an overall risk score of ideal. 

Researchers found that lesbian, gay and bisexual people were more likely to smoke, have a poor diet and less physically active compared to heterosexuals. 

Dr Saxena told Daily Mail Online this could be due to a distrust in primary care physicians or a response to discrimination.

‘I am not surprised by these findings as many previous researches point to similar direction,’ he said. ‘I think higher prevalence of smoking, poor diet and less physical activity as coping mechanisms due to discrimination or abuse could be one of the factor.’ 

 Previous studies have revealed health disparities between sexual minorities and heterosexuals.

Researcher published in a 2013 issue of the American Journal of Public Health revealed women who identified as LGBT were more likely to be current or former smokers, to report a history of drug use, risky drinking, and a family history of cardiovascular disease compared to heterosexual women.

Furthermore, a Kaiser Family Foundation Research report released last year revealed that people in the LGBT community often face challenges and barriers when it comes to getting needed health services, which is one of the reasons why they experience worst health outcomes.  

Researchers of the current study said that although additional research is necessary, their findings highlight the importance of reducing cardiovascular risks among LGB adults.