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Social support may reduce heart, stroke effects of discrimination in transgender and gender non-conforming adults

November 11, 2019 GMT
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Billy A. Caceres Ph.D. R.N.
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Billy A. Caceres Ph.D. R.N.

Research Highlights:Having strong social support may help offset heart and stroke risk factors caused by discrimination in transgender and gender non-conforming adults, according to new research.Researchers say it’s important for health care professionals to ask these patients about their exposure to discrimination that can sometimes lead to increased risk and whether they have adequate social support to deal with these stressors. Embargoed until 4 a.m. CT/5 a.m. ET Monday, Nov. 11, 2019( ) - November 11, 2019 - DALLAS - Higher levels of social support may help offset increased and risk factors triggered by discrimination and gender expectations among transgender and gender non-conforming adults, according to preliminary research to be presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2019 — November 16-18 in Philadelphia. The Association’s Scientific Sessions is an annual, premier global exchange of the latest advances in cardiovascular science for researchers and clinicians.Researchers examined the link to discrimination in day-to-day life, such as job discrimination, difficulty finding housing and being threatened or harassed — and internalized transphobia (internalizing societal gender expectations and/or feeling shame towards one’s own gender identity) and behaviors known to influence heart disease risk, such as tobacco use, drinking, low levels of physical activity, sleeping too little and being overweight or obese.Participants included 288 adults (half assigned as female at birth, average age 34) taking part in Project AFFIRM, a three-city, long-term study of health in people who identify as transgender and gender non-conforming (those with gender identities outside the conventional notion of male or female).Researchers found:Hormone use did not influence heart disease and stroke risk factors in this study. While previous studies have found hormone use to be associated with higher rates of clot-caused strokes in transgender women than in non-transgender women, this study analyzed risk factors rather than the occurrence of heart attacks or strokes.“Our findings are important because they suggest that social support might protect against the negative heart disease and stroke effects of discrimination among transgender and gender-nonconforming persons,” said Billy A. Caceres, Ph.D., R.N., lead author of the study and assistant professor in the Program for the Study of LGBT Health at the Columbia University School of Nursing in New York. “It’s important for healthcare professionals to ask these patients about their exposure to these types of stressors, hormone use and whether they have adequate social support.”Because participants in Project AFFIRM lived in New York, San Francisco and Atlanta, these findings may not be generalizable to people in rural or suburban areas of the United States or to transgender and gender non-conforming people living in other countries.Co-authors are Kasey Jackman, Ph.D., R.N.; Donald Edmondson, Ph.D.; and Walter Bockting, Ph.D. Author disclosures are in the abstract.Additional Resources:Downloadable multimedia available on the right column of the release link https://newsroom.heart.org/news/social-support-may-reduce-heart-stroke-effects-of-discrimination-in-transgender-and-gender-non-conforming-adults?preview=e4bbe2928e909e2400ae2dfc572cb6f4AHA News Release:  AHA News Release:  For more news from the AHA’s Scientific Sessions 2019, follow us on Twitter   #AHA19.Statements and conclusions of study authors presented at American Heart Association scientific meetings are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect the Association’s policy or position. The Association makes no representation or guarantee 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 and health insurance providers are available at  .The American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions is a premier global exchange of the latest advances in cardiovascular science for researchers and clinicians. Scientific Sessions 2019 is November 16-18 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia. More than 12,000 leading physicians, scientists, cardiologists and allied health care professionals from around the world convene at the Scientific Sessions to participate in basic, clinical and population science presentations, discussions and curricula that can shape the future of cardiovascular science and medicine, including prevention and quality improvement. During the three-day meeting, attendees receive exclusive access to over 4,100 original research presentations and can earn Continuing Medical Education (CME), Continuing Education (CE) or Maintenance of Certification (MOC) credits for educational sessions. Engage in the Scientific Sessions conversation on social media via #AHA19.About the American Heart AssociationThe American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on , , or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.###For Media Inquiries and AHA Volunteer Expert Perspective:AHA News Media in Dallas: 214-706-1173AHA News Media Office, Nov. 16-18, 2019 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia: 215-418-2450For Public Inquiries: 1-800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721)and