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Gender transition hormone therapy may increase cardiovascular risk

By
Tauren Dyson
People receiving estrogen and testosterone treatments as a part of their gender transition have an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes and blood clots. Photo by ronstik/Shutterstock
People receiving estrogen and testosterone treatments as a part of their gender transition have an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes and blood clots. Photo by ronstik/Shutterstock

Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Transgendered people who've undergone hormone therapy may be at an elevated risk for cardiovascular events, a new study says.

People receiving estrogen and testosterone treatments as a part of their gender transition have an increased risk for heart attacks, strokes and blood clots, according to a study published Monday in the journal Circulation, though researchers note that the risk appears to decrease over time.

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While receiving hormone therapy during a transition, transgender women had more than twice as many strokes, five times as many deep-vein clots and twice the rate of heart attacks as cisgender women. And transgender men had almost twice as many strokes, more than four times as many deep-vein clots and more than twice the rate of heart attacks as cisgender men.

Compared to cisgender women, transgender men also had more than a three-fold increase in heart attack risk.

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"In light of our results, we urge both physicians and transgender individuals to be aware of this increased cardiovascular risk," Nienke Nota, a researcher in the department of endocrinology at the Amsterdam University Medical Center and a study author, said in a news release.

The study analyzed transgender people who received hormone therapy between 1972 and 2015, but it didn't account for other risk factors like smoking or eating habits.

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The researchers, however, say that this study wasn't meant to find the cause of the increased cardiovascular risk, just to point out that one exists.

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Although, other research has attempted to determine what effect hormone therapy has on the heart, a 2018 study found that receiving estrogen and testosterone treatments may raise triglycerides in both transgender men and transgender women.

High triglycerides can increase any person's risk for a heart attack, the CDC says.

"It may be helpful to reduce risk factors by stopping smoking, exercising, eating a healthy diet and losing weight, if needed before starting therapy, and clinicians should continue to evaluate patients on an ongoing basis thereafter," Nota said.

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