by Valerie Hillow Gates, Executive Director, American Heart Association
There is mounting evidence that LGBTQ+ adults experience disparities across several cardiovascular risk factors compared with their cisgender, heterosexual peers. According to a recent American Heart Association (AHA) statement, LGBTQ+ adults report experiencing high rates of discrimination in health care settings. More than half (56%) of LGBTQ+ adults and 70% of those who are transgender or gender non-conforming report experiencing some form of discrimination from a health care professional.
Fear of discrimination can translate to LGBTQ+ adults delaying primary or preventive care, or lack of trust toward health care professionals. LGBTQ+ adults experience multiple, interrelated psychological and social stressors, including exposure to discrimination and violence. While data on how these stressors affect their cardiovascular health is limited, there is evidence that mental health has direct effects on physical health, and stressors can contribute to increased inflammation, which impacts heart health.
Moreover, LGBTQ+ populations may face unique stressors, such as family rejection and anxiety over concealment of their sexual orientation or gender identity. And LGBTQ+ adults in historically excluded racial or ethnic groups all experience higher poverty levels, insecure housing, and fewer health care options than their white LGBTQ+ peers.
The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives for all – including the LGBTQ+ community. Every day, the American Heart Association is working to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. Members of the LGBTQ+ community face health disparities linked to societal stigma, discrimination, and denial of civil and human rights.
While much work remains to be done to mitigate these health disparities, a great starting point is to be highly selective about the health care practitioner you choose, and to shop around until you find someone with whom you feel comfortable. 🔥
- For more on cardiovascular health for LGBTQ+ adults, see here.