Trans men and women could be more likely to suffer heart attacks than cisgender people, a new study has found.
The findings show that, in some cases, the risk of cardiac arrest could be four times higher for trans people.
The findings come from a new study led by medical researchers at George Washington University.
However, researchers have highlighted the survey’s limited scope.
‘This has not been a topic that has been discussed a lot’
Researchers analyzed data from a nationwide health survey conducted in the US by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, health news site Medical Xpress reported. They used data spanning from 2014 to 2017.
Respondents were asked if they were trans and if they had ever suffered from a heart attack.
The findings showed that trans men were most likely to have higher heart attack rates. The rate of trans men having heart attacks was four times that of cisgender women. It was also twice that of cisgender men.
Trans women were twice as likely to suffer from heart attacks than cisgender women. There was no significant difference in the heart attack rates of trans women and cisgender men.
‘This has not been a topic that has been discussed a lot in the past,’ said Dr Tran Nguyen, an internal medicine resident at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Nguyen was one of the study’s principal authors.
‘But previous studies have shown that the transgender population has been more prone to more cardiovascular risk factors, such as poverty, smoking […] and depression,’ said Nguyen.
‘What surprised us was that the rate of heart attacks would be that much higher.’
‘It’s an observational study, and that is very limited’
However, a researcher not involved with the study has pointed out its limited methodology.
Dr Paul Chan, a cardiologist and professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, said that he agreed with the study, but that it was still preliminary and limited in scope.
‘It begins the conversation and that’s the important thing,’ said Chan. ‘But it’s an observational study, and that is very limited.’
Chan added that the study did not include data about hormone therapy, and how this could increase the risk of heart disease.
The age of those studied may also lead to misleading findings, Chan said. ‘The majority of population reporting as transgender are younger. So the true risk of heart attack may not be known for years.’
‘We need large cohort studies to follow up […] And we need to think about how we design gender questions, not just perpetuate the issue as binary because we only give two options. That will give us a lot more data about risks and benefits,’ Chan said.
The study’s authors will be present their findings at the American Heart Association’s Quality of Care and Outcomes Research Scientific Sessions. The study also appeared in the American Heart Association journal, Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.