DALLAS, June 1, 2021 — Rachel L. Levine, M.D., Assistant Secretary for Health will serve as keynote speaker at the American Heart Association’s second annual Hearts with Pride virtual Pride celebration on Wednesday, June 9, 2021, at 1:00 pm ET/noon CT/10:00 am PT. The American Heart Association, the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all, will livestream the event which is free and available to all. Attendees can register at the Hearts with Pride website.
Dr. Levine, the highest-ranking openly transgender public official in United States history, oversees the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' key public health offices and programs, a number of Presidential and Secretarial advisory committees, 10 regional health offices across the nation, and the Office of the Surgeon General and the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. Her keynote speech will focus specifically on health disparities in the LGBTQ community and how she is using her personal experience to advance health equity for all.
“We are honored that Dr. Levine will join us for our virtual Pride event,” said American Heart Association Chief Executive Officer Nancy Brown. “As champions for health equity, the American Heart Association has set a goal to advance cardiovascular health for all by 2024. This includes identifying and removing barriers to health care access and quality and to addressing those experienced by the LGBTQ+ community.”
June is Pride Month, and with many pride events still on hold due to the pandemic, the Association’s Hearts with Pride employee resource group offers an opportunity for interested individuals to celebrate pride while raising awareness of the importance of good physical and mental health, because every person deserves the opportunity for a longer, healthier life.
The virtual Pride celebration will also include opening remarks from the Association’s CEO, Nancy Brown; a performance by singer, actress, composer Ann Hampton Callaway; music by LGBTQ mariachi group Mariachi Arcoiris de Los Angeles; and will be emceed by San Francisco drag queen and American Heart Association volunteer, Mutha Chucka.
Cardiovascular diseases do not discriminate. There is mounting evidence that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning (LGBTQ) adults experience disparities across several cardiovascular risk factors compared with their cisgender, heterosexual peers.
According to the recent American Heart Association statement, Assessing and Addressing Cardiovascular Health in LGBTQ Adults, the unique healthcare barriers for LGBTQ people include:
- 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 healthcare 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.
- LGBTQ populations may face unique stressors, such as family rejection and anxiety over concealment of their sexual orientation or gender identity. 
- LBGTQ adults in historically underrepresented racial or ethnic groups all experience higher poverty levels, insecure housing, and fewer health care options than their white LGBTQ peers.
Challenges of the COVID-19 global pandemic have made the past year difficult for many, including those in the LGBTQ community. Isolation from family and friends can take an emotional toll, while unhealthy habits picked up while living in quarantine can take a physical one. So can skipping medications and medical exams, which is happening frequently as social distancing concerns led people to miss their routine check-ups and annual physicals.
However, many LGBTQ individuals have been delaying primary care and preventative visits long before the pandemic because of the fear of discrimination. During her keynote, Dr. Levine will discuss the critical need for health care providers to consider each patient’s unique emotional and physical needs.
Research News about LGB/LGBT/LGBTQ people and heart health:
- AHA Scientific Statement: Discrimination contributes to poorer heart health for LGBTQ adults
- Many transgender people who receive hormone therapy have unaddressed heart disease risks
- Ideal heart health less likely among lesbian, gay and bisexual adults
- Social support may reduce heart, stroke effects of discrimination in transgender and gender non-conforming adults
- LGB adults may be less likely to take statins to prevent heart disease
- Aging LGBT seniors a major public health issue
- Beloved San Francisco drag queen spreads message of heart health
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1
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 Lamda Legal. When health care isn’t caring: Lambda Legal’s survey on discrimination against LGBT people and people living with HIV. 2010 on behalf of the American Heart Association Council on Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing; Council on Hypertension; Council on Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health; Council on Peripheral Vascular Disease; and Stroke Council. Assessing and addressing cardiovascular health in LGBTQ adults: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. Accessed August 28, 2020. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1161/CIR.0000000000000914 Page 8
Meyer IH. Prejudice, social stress, and mental health in lesbian, gay, and bisexual populations: conceptual issues and research evidence. Psychol Bull. 2003;129:674–697. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.129.5.674 2010 on behalf of the American Heart Association Council on Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing; Council on Hypertension; Council on Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health; Council on Peripheral Vascular Disease; and Stroke Council. Assessing and addressing cardiovascular health in LGBTQ adults: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. Accessed August 28, 2020https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1161/CIR.0000000000000914 Page 2
 Badgett, M.V L, Choi SK, Wilson BDM. LGBT poverty in the United States: a study of differences between sexual orientation and gender identity groups. October 2019. https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/National-LGBT-Poverty-Oct-2019.pdf?utm_campaign=hsric&utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery. Accessed August 28, 2020. on behalf of the American Heart Association Council on Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing; Council on Hypertension; Council on Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health; Council on Peripheral Vascular Disease; and Stroke Council. Assessing and addressing cardiovascular health in LGBTQ adults: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. Accessed August 28, 2020 https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1161/CIR.0000000000000914 Page 3