Field Notes

LGB Adults Less Likely to Take Cholesterol-Lowering Statins

Lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) adults who may benefit from cholesterol-lowering medicine to prevent heart disease are less likely than non-LGB adults to take them, according to new research.

An analysis of online surveys of 1,531 people who responded to targeted Facebook ads showed less than 21% of LGB adults were taking statins, compared with 44% of their non-LGB peers. In all, more than 12% of respondents identified as LGB. Nearly one-third of all the people surveyed were taking statins. The research is published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

“Our study was the first to estimate the prevalence of statin use among the LGB population,” according to study author Yi Guo, PhD. Guo, an assistant professor of health outcomes and biomedical informatics at the University of Florida College of Medicine in Gainesville, says detailed studies are needed to understand statin use among LGB people with clinical data from the real world, such as with electronic health records or administrative claims.

LGB adults have higher CVD risk than non-LGB adults, according to an American Heart Association scientific statement published in October. Research cited in that statement showed a variety of environmental and social stressors for LGB people could play a part in boosting heart disease risk factors such as smoking and having obesity.

Guo and colleagues conducted the survey between September and December 2019, targeting adult Facebook users in the United States with interests in LGB keywords, such as “gay pride.” The researchers then developed a series of ads linking to their survey, which asked about sexual orientation, gender identity, statin use, health status, chronic conditions, smoking status, and more.

“There could be many reasons for the difference we observed,” Guo says. “LGB individuals may not go to the doctor as often, which leads to lower chances of being recommended statins for cardiovascular disease prevention.”

When the researchers looked at the use of statins among people who already had CVD, there was no disparity between LGB and non-LGB adults.

Guo says the LGB population may be less aware of the protective effect of statins and highlights the “urgent need for tailored interventions and campaigns that promote the awareness.”

Study coauthor Jiang Bian, PhD, an associate professor of health outcomes and biomedical informatics at the University of Florida College of Medicine, says 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.

“First, more research is needed to better understand the cardiovascular disease health risks and outcomes in the LGB population,” according to Bian. “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.”

— Source: American Heart Association


Cruciferous Veggies May Benefit Blood Vessel Health

New research published in the British Journal of Nutrition has found that higher consumption of cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage, is associated with less extensive blood vessel disease in older women.

Using data from a cohort of 684 older Western Australian women recruited in 1998, researchers from Edith Cowan University’s School of Medical and Health Sciences and The University of Western Australia found those with a diet comprising more cruciferous vegetables had a lower chance of having extensive build-up of calcium on their aorta, a key marker for structural blood vessel disease.

Blood vessel disease is a condition that affects blood vessels (arteries and veins) and can reduce the flow of blood circulating around the body. This reduction in blood flow can be due to the buildup of fatty calcium deposits on the inner walls of blood vessels, such as the aorta. This buildup of fatty calcium deposits is the leading cause of having a heart attack or stroke.

Lead researcher Lauren Blekkenhorst, PhD, says there was something intriguing about cruciferous vegetables that this study has shed more light on.

“In our previous studies, we identified that those with a higher intake of these vegetables had a reduced risk of having a clinical cardiovascular disease event, such as a heart attack or stroke, but we weren’t sure why,” she says.

“Our findings from this new study provide insight into the potential mechanisms involved. We have now found that older women consuming higher amounts of cruciferous vegetables every day have lower odds of having extensive calcification on their aorta,” Blekkenhorst says.

“One particular constituent found abundantly in cruciferous vegetables is vitamin K, which may be involved in inhibiting the calcification process that occurs in our blood vessels.”

Blekkenhorst says women in this study who consumed more than 45 g of cruciferous vegetables every day (eg, 1/4 cup of steamed broccoli or 1/2 cup of raw cabbage) were 46% less likely to have extensive buildup of calcium on their aorta in comparison with those consuming little to no cruciferous vegetables every day.

“That’s not to say the only vegetables we should be eating are broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. We should be eating a wide variety of vegetables every day for overall good health and well-being,” Blekkenhorst says.

— Source: Edith Cowan University