Abuse and trauma might be why lesbian and bisexual (LB) women have higher risk of heart disease than heterosexual women.
The results of a new study suggested LB women were more stressed, obese, use tobacco and binge drink. These factors can lead to greater heart disease risks.
Researchers weren’t sure why LB women exhibited these factors at a higher rate, but think abuse, neglect and other trauma plays a role.
The findings of the study will be presented in Chicago at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2018 at the weekend.
Researchers studied 547 sexual minority women, measuring three forms of childhood trauma: physical abuse, sexual abuse and parental neglect. They also measured three forms of adult trauma: physical abuse, sexual abuse and intimate partner violence. Finally researchers looked at lifetime trauma, which was the sum of childhood and adulthood trauma.
They then analyzed the association between increasing trauma severity and higher reports of several cardiovascular risk factors.
Researchers found lesbian and bisexual women with increased severity of trauma throughout any of those stages in life left them at a higher risk for posttraumatic stress disorder and a perception of less social support.
Researchers also found the studied lesbian and bisexual women were:
- 30% more likely to have anxiety if they experienced more forms of adulthood trauma.
- 41% more likely to be depressed if they reported increased forms of childhood trauma. 22% more likely to be depressed if they had experienced more forms of lifetime trauma.
- 44% more likely to report overeating in the past three months if they experienced increased forms of childhood trauma.
- 58% more likely to have diabetes if they experienced increasing severity of childhood trauma, and lifetime trauma notably increased their risks of obesity and high blood pressure.
Researchers said healthcare providers should screen for trauma as a cardiovascular disease risk factor among LB women.