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Abuse and neglect associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk for lesbian and bisexual women

November 05, 2018

DALLAS, Nov. 5, 2018 -- Trauma, including abuse and neglect, is associated with higher cardiovascular disease risk for lesbian and bisexual women, according to preliminary research to be presented in Chicago at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2018, a premier global exchange of the latest advances in cardiovascular science for researchers and clinicians.

Sexual minority (lesbian and bisexual) women are more likely than heterosexual women to be stressed, use tobacco, binge drink and be obese. Why these cardiovascular risk factors occur more among sexual minority women isn't clear, but some think abuse, neglect and other trauma plays a role.

Researchers studied 547 sexual minority women, measuring three forms of childhood trauma: physical abuse, sexual abuse and parental neglect; three forms of adult trauma: physical abuse, sexual abuse and intimate partner violence; and lifetime trauma, which was the sum of childhood and adulthood trauma. They analyzed how increasing trauma severity was associated with higher report of several cardiovascular risk factors.

Researchers found sexual minority women with increased severity of childhood, adulthood or lifetime trauma had higher risk for posttraumatic stress disorder and a perception of less social support.

Researchers also found the studied women were:
  • 30 percent more likely to have anxiety if they experienced more forms of adulthood trauma.

  • 41 percent more likely to be depressed if they reported increased forms of childhood trauma and 22 percent more likely to be depressed if they had experienced more forms of lifetime trauma.

  • 44 percent more likely to report overeating in the past three months if they experienced increased forms of childhood trauma.

  • 58 percent 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.
These findings suggest healthcare providers should screen for trauma as a cardiovascular disease risk factor in this population, according to the authors.

The research was recognized as the "Cardiovascular Stroke Nursing Best Abstract Award."
-end-
Note: Scientific presentation is 10:45 a.m. CT, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018.

Billy A. Caceres, Ph.D., R.N., Columbia University School of Nursing, New York, NY

Additional Resources:Statements and conclusions of study authors that are presented at American Heart Association scientific meetings are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect association policy or position. The association makes no representation or warranty as to their accuracy or reliability. The association receives funding primarily from individuals; foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific association programs and events. The association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and device corporations are available at https://www.heart.org/en/about-us/aha-financial-information.

About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is a leading force for a world of longer, healthier lives. With nearly a century of lifesaving work, the Dallas-based association is dedicated to ensuring equitable health for all. We are a trustworthy source empowering people to improve their heart health, brain health and well-being. We collaborate with numerous organizations and millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, advocate for stronger public health policies, and share lifesaving resources and information. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.

American Heart Association

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