Lesbian, gay and bisexual adults who may benefit from cholesterol-lowering drugs to prevent heart disease are less likely than non-LGB adults to take them, according to a new study by UF Health researchers.
In a survey of 1,531 adults 40 years or older conducted on Facebook, Jiang Bian, Ph.D., and Yi Guo, Ph.D., found that LGB minorities are much less likely than non-LGB adults to use statins to prevent atherosclerosis. Statins, which lower levels of harmful cholesterol and other types of fat in the blood, are now recommended for the prevention of heart disease in high-risk older adults by the American Heart Association (AHA) and numerous other health organizations worldwide.
Like many middle-aged and older Americans, sexual and gender minorities have an increased risk of developing atherosclerosis, a buildup of fatty deposits on the artery walls that can lead to heart attacks and strokes. The risk of heart disease is even greater in LBG minorities partly because they experience higher levels of chronic stress related to discrimination and marginalization. High rates of obesity and tobacco, alcohol and drug use among some LGB populations also contribute to their elevated risk, according to Bian and Guo, researchers in the UF College of Medicine’s department of health outcomes and biomedical informatics.
“Given the clear evidence that statin use can prevent cardiovascular disease in older adults, our survey shows the urgent need for tailored, evidence-based heart disease prevention programs promoting statin use and healthy aging in the sexual and gender minority population,” Bian said. LGB adults are designated as a health disparity population by the National Institutes of Health because they experience higher rates of certain diseases, including heart disease, and more deaths and suffering from them compared with the general population.
The study was published in the December issue of the Journal of the American Heart Association. An AHA press release about the study led to a number of news reports in regional and national media, including the following:
“Study: Gay, lesbian adults often miss out on cholesterol meds,” in UPI.com/Health News, Dec. 3, 2020
“Suboptimal’ Primary CVD Prevention for Sexual Minorities,” in Medscape Medical News, Dec. 9, 2020