According to a recent study, bisexual women may have poorer cardiovascular health (CVH) than heterosexual women. The study analyzed data from 12,180 people with an average age of 39, half of whom were female. The data was taken from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2007-2016) conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Individuals were assigned a CHV score from 0 to 100 based on their dietary habits and physical exams. Scores below 50 were considered “poor” cardiovascular health, while scores above 80 were considered “high”.
Bisexual women were found to be about half as likely to receive higher heart health scores than heterosexual women due to “nicotine exposure and higher body mass index.” The researchers also cited other factors such as added stress, less sleep, and a higher risk of diabetes among bisexual women. Additionally, bisexual men were found to be twice as likely as heterosexual men to have high blood pressure.
The study was led by Dr. Billy Caceres, an assistant professor at the Columbia School of Nursing, and participated in by researchers from Columbia, the University of California, San Francisco, and the Boston University School of Medicine. The authors of the study noted that more research is needed to determine other factors that might influence cardiovascular health in bisexual women.
Dr. Dung Trinh, chief medical officer of Irvine Clinical Research and a physician with Memorial Care Medical Group in California, believes that health care providers should consider the unique health needs of different sexual orientations when providing care for cardiac disease. Dr. Trinh recommends that cardiac health care providers ask open-ended questions about sexual orientation and gender identity during the patient’s medical history intake to help identify any risk factors. He also said that discrimination and stigma may heighten the risk of cardiovascular disease among bisexual females, and that doctors should screen for mental health conditions that may impact cardiovascular health.
Dr. Trinh emphasizes the importance of educating patients on how their sexual orientation may impact their cardiac disease risk factors and to stress prevention strategies such as healthy eating habits, regular exercise, stress management techniques, and medication adherence if necessary. Physicians should provide appropriate referrals for community resources or support groups as needed, he recommends.