Doctors drawing attention to new LGBTQ heart health risk factors during Pride month

Almost a million people died from heart disease in 2020, according to the most recent American Heart Association data, but doctors say LGBTQ individuals could be at higher risk.

“The study from the American Heart Association found that lesbian, bisexual, gay individuals and other LGBTQ people had higher risk factors for heart disease,” said Dr. Keith Egan, lead physician at Kaiser Permanente’s Pride Medical Center.

The medical center launched Pride Medical on Capitol Hill back in 2022 to offer safe and welcoming care to sexual minorities.

The study looked at actors like diet, activity level and tobacco use. But the reasons for increased heart health risk factors in LGBTQ+ populations could also be due to other, very real external factors that play just as big a role, Egan said.

“It basically all boils down to systemic bias and discrimination that these populations face in various aspects of life,” he told WTOP.

That type of bias could be present in housing communities, the workplace or even the health care industry, Egan said. And LGBTQ individuals are also less likely to have primary care physicians and get routine checkups.

“Pride month is a good time to remember and keep in mind the disparities that these communities face,” he said. Egan also said everyone should remember the gains that sexual minorities have made, and realize there’s still more work to be done.

His advice for LGBTQ people this Pride month?

“Have a primary care provider that they can really trust and be open with,” he said. “Having that trust allows you to be honest, which is the best way to get that preventative care to avoid health issues and other disease concerns.”

Most importantly, he says as a society, continuing to be more accepting and remedy biases will lead to a happier, healthier outlook for everyone out there.

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Matt Kaufax

If there's an off-the-beaten-path type of attraction, person, or phenomenon in the DC area that you think more people should know about, Matt is your guy. As the features reporter for WTOP, he's always on the hunt for stories that provide a unique local flavor—a slice of life if you will.

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