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Transgender people at higher risk of heart disease, studies suggest

Lydia Smith August 3, 2018
A doctor giving the uncomfortable news (stevanovicigor)

"Treatment should be made available in order to ensure that access to health services is free of discrimination" (stevanovicigor)

Transgender people may be at higher risk of heart disease, several studies have suggested.

The increased risk may be due to the hormone therapy that some people may undergo as part of their transition.

A review by Michael Irwig, associate professor of medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, examined several studies that followed trans individuals on hormone therapy.

“Many transgender patients take either testosterone or estrogen for masculinisation or feminisation,” Irwig said.

“Some studies have suggested that transgender people have an increased risk for heart attack and death due to cardiovascular disease.”

The review focuses on cardiovascular events such as heart attacks, strokes and venous thromboembolism – where a blood clot forms in a vein – in trans patients on hormone therapy who may or may not have undergone gender-confirmation procedures.

Trans women appear to have an increased risk of cardiovascular events (Getty)

The results show that trans women appear to have an increased risk of cardiovascular events due to hormone therapy, but the data is less clear for trans men.

“In clinical studies that followed transgender patients, rates for myocardial infarction were consistently higher in transgender women on estrogen therapy than in transgender men on testosterone,” Irwig said.

“The relationship between endogenous sex hormones and heart disease is complex. In cisgender women, estrogen may have a protective effect.”

Given that hormone therapy is often essential in the management of transgender patients, Irwig suggests more research is needed on the effects and risk of hormone therapy in older transgender populations.

He also suggests more research is needed on the safest forms of estrogen therapy.

Bisexual men’s stress levels were linked to heart disease in another study (Stock photo)

A study published in June found bisexual men are at a higher risk of heart disease than their heterosexual or gay peers.

The research examined nearly 8,000 men of different sexualities and analysed their risks of heart disease.

Using data from 7,731 men between the ages of 20 to 59, researchers found that bisexual men had higher levels of stress and higher blood pressure, which have been linked to heart disease.

The research found no difference between men who identified as heterosexual while sleeping with other men and men who were exclusively heterosexual.

Gay men were found to binge drink less than men in the other three groups and had a similar risk of heart disease as heterosexual men.

More: Health, heart disease, Trans, Transgender

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