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Take pride in your heart health

A smiling young woman with purple hair.

June 8, 2021—Did you know that the risk for heart disease is higher for LGBTQ people?

An American Heart Association (AHA) study showed that among people ages 20 to 49, 55% of gay or lesbian adults and almost 44% of bisexual adults were in poor cardiovascular health. That's compared to 40% of straight people.

Researchers suggested that these patients may delay primary or preventive care because they've faced discrimination from healthcare providers in the past. In fact, more than half of LGBTQ adults and 70% of transgender or gender nonconforming adults reported that they have had such experiences.

7 ways to show your heart some love

Some heart disease risk factors, such as family history and age, are out of your hands. Fortunately, there are other ways to reduce your risk.

The AHA recommends starting with Life's Simple 7 changes:

  1. Manage blood pressure to reduce the strain on your heart, arteries and kidneys.
  2. Manage cholesterol to keep your arteries clear of blockages.
  3. Reduce blood sugar to prevent damage to your heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves.
  4. Get active every day to increase your length and quality of life.
  5. Eat better to give your body the heart-healthy foods it needs.
  6. Lose weight, if needed, to reduce the burden on your heart, lungs, blood vessels and bones.
  7. Stop smoking to reduce your risk of heart disease.

If you need to make a lot of changes on that list, don't worry. Pick just one or two to start with. Then add more when you can. Even modest changes to your lifestyle will make a big difference to your heart health.

And remember, you deserve a healthcare provider who respects the whole you. If you're not being treated with respect, say so. And don't be afraid to switch providers if you need to. Ask your community and allies for recommendations.

When you care for your heart, your heart will take care of you. That's something to be proud of.

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