Objectives: Sexual minorities face significant psychosocial stressors (such as discrimination and violence) that impact their health. Several studies indicate that sexual minority women (SMW) and bisexual men may be at highest risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD), but limited research has examined physiological CVD risk or racial/ethnic differences. This study sought to examine racial/ethnic differences in physiological risk factors for CVD among sexual minority and heterosexual adults. Design: We analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2001–2016) using sex-stratified multiple linear regression models to estimate differences in physiological CVD risk. We compared sexual minorities (gay/lesbian, bisexual, ‘not sure’) to heterosexual participants first without regard to race/ethnicity. Then we compared sexual minorities by race/ethnicity to White heterosexual participants. Results: The sample included 22,305 participants (ages 18–59). Lesbian women had higher body mass index (BMI) but lower total cholesterol than heterosexual women. Bisexual women had higher systolic blood pressure (SBP). Gay men had lower BMI and glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) relative to heterosexual men. White and Black lesbian women and bisexual women of all races/ethnicities had higher BMI than White heterosexual women; Black bisexual women had higher SBP and HbA1c. Black sexual minority men had higher HbA1c relative to White heterosexual men. Latino ‘not sure’ men also had higher SBP, HbA1c, and total cholesterol than White heterosexual men. Conclusions: Given evidence of higher CVD risk in sexual minority people of color relative to White heterosexuals, there is a need for health promotion initiatives to address these disparities. Additional research that incorporates longitudinal designs and examines the influence of psychosocial stressors on CVD risk in sexual minorities is recommended. Findings have implications for clinical and policy efforts to promote the cardiovascular health of sexual minorities.
- Cardiovascular disease
- health promotion
- sexual minorities
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cultural Studies
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health