DALLAS, June 6, 2023 — According to a study recently published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, lesbian and bisexual women in France had poorer heart health than heterosexual women, a finding that could be attributed to discrimination and other stressors faced by the LGBTQ+ community. In support of Pride Month, the American Heart Association, a global force for longer, healthier lives for all, is promoting awareness and health education for all people across the spectrum of diversity, including those who identify as LGBTQ+.
For more than 50 years, the LGBTQ+ community has spent the month of June marching to commemorate its struggle and fight against discrimination in health care, employment, and housing across the country and around the globe. According to the American Heart Association’s 2021 scientific statement “Assessing and Addressing Cardiovascular Health in People Who Are Transgender and Gender Diverse”, higher levels of heart disease among transgender and gender diverse (TGD) people are linked to the stress of experiencing discrimination and transphobia at personal and societal levels. This population faces unique personal stressors that often result in negative coping behaviors that may complicate an individual’s cardiovascular health including a poor diet, elevated body mass index, low physical activity, and a smoking rate up to 2.5 times higher than heterosexual and cisgender adults.
“Recognizing and addressing the health care needs specific to the LGBTQ+ community is vital to the American Heart Association’s mission,” said volunteer president of the American Heart Association Michelle A. Albert, M.D., M.P.H., FAHA, who is the Walter A Haas-Lucie Stern Endowed Chair and professor of medicine, director of the CeNter for the StUdy of AdveRsiTy and CardiovascUlaR DiseasE (NURTURE Center) and associate dean of admissions at the University of California, San Francisco. “More research and advocacy are needed to understand this community’s unique health challenges. The Association is helping fill in the gap by funding innovative research, advocating for public health equity and sharing easily accessible lifesaving resources.”
The first step in improving cardiovascular health is knowing and understanding current risks. Since better cardiovascular health helps lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, dementia, diabetes and other major health problems, the American Heart Association has defined key measures for improving and maintaining cardiovascular health. Life’s Essential 8, focuses on eating better, increasing physical activity, quitting smoking, and improving sleep habits, while also recommending steps that can be taken to reach a healthy weight, control cholesterol, and manage both blood sugar and blood pressure.
Science-based downloadable resources are available to provide guidance to address each of the eight points. For example, they include information about how to read food labels, avoid trans fats, set physical activity goals and provide successful tips to quit smoking and reduce tech activity before going to sleep. Education about health risk factors and incorporating and addressing these eight items may be the key to improving and maintaining cardiovascular health as they provide a foundation for living a longer, healthier life.
The Association supports public policies that improve access to quality, affordable health care, including provisions of the Affordable Care Act that have increased the number of people with quality health coverage. We also support policies that prevent the tobacco industry from targeting LGBTQ+ communities and others with deadly tobacco products. We work to educate youth and young adults who are LGBTQ+ and their allies about the importance of advocating for such policies.
- AHA News: Lesbian and bisexual women may have worse heart health: https://www.heart.org/en/news/2023/05/17/lesbian-and-bisexual-women-may-have-worse-heart-health
- Life’s Essential 8: www.heart.org/lifes8
- American Heart Association Pride with Heart: https://www.heart.org/en/about-us/diversity-inclusion/pride-with-heart
- Discrimination contributes to poorer heart health for LGBTQ adults (AHA scientific statement, 2020): https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIR.0000000000000914
- Discrimination, stress linked to poorer heart health in transgender, gender diverse adults (AHA scientific statement, 2021): https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/CIR.0000000000001003
- Let’s Snuff Out Tobacco video about the deadly consequences of the tobacco industry’s predatory marketing for the LGBTQ+ community
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.
For Media Inquiries:
Joseph Marks: 210-810-3093, Joseph.Marks@heart.org
For Public Inquiries: 1-800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721)