Lesbian, gay and bisexual adults are less likely to take cholesterol-lowering statins to prevent heart disease than heterosexual adults, even though they have a higher heart disease risk, according to a new study.
Researchers conducted an online survey of more than 1,500 Facebook users, aged 40 and older, and found that nearly one-third were taking statins.
Of the 12% of respondents who identified as LGB, less than 21% were taking statins for primary prevention, compared with nearly 44% of non-LGB adults.
Primary prevention is when a person takes statins to prevent heart disease.
There were no significant differences between LGB and non-LGB adults in the use of statins for secondary prevention -- the use of statins by someone with heart disease -- according to the study published this week in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
"There could be many reasons for the difference we observed," said study author Yi Guo, assistant professor of health outcomes and biomedical informatics at the University of Florida College of Medicine.
"LGB individuals may not go to the doctor as often, which leads to lower chances of being recommended statins for cardiovascular disease prevention," he said in a journal news release.
It's also possible that LGB adults may be less aware of their increased heart disease risk -- in part because they're more likely to smoke, drink alcohol, use drugs and be obese -- and the protective effect of statins.
"We were surprised to see such a big difference in primary prevention, with less than half of the rate as the non-LGB population. This highlights the urgent need for tailored interventions and campaigns that promote the awareness of statin use and cardiovascular health in the LGB population," Guo said.
"Health care providers should address their own biases and understand the complexities of LGB patients, making sure to provide guideline-directed recommendations in a culturally competent way," said study co-author Jiang Bian, associate professor of health outcomes and biomedical informatics at the UF College of Medicine.
"What we have found is very much in line with the American Heart Association's statement for LBGTQ adults," Bian said in the release.
"First, more research is needed to better understand the cardiovascular disease health risks and outcomes in the LGB population. Second, educational programs are needed to educate health professionals on these unique health risks and outcomes in the LGB population and the appropriate way to communicate with LGB people," he said.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more on statins.
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