195781 Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease and Sexual Orientation: Women Enrolled in the ESTHER Study

Monday, November 9, 2009: 12:30 PM

Nina Markovic, PhD , Graduate School of Public Health, Dept. of Epidmiology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Michelle E. Danielson, PhD , Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health, Pittsburgh, PA
Helen Smith, MPH , Department of Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Published research report that lesbians have higher rates of many risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease, including increased tobacco use and higher rates of obesity. However, reports also find that lesbian women are more likely to report engaging in leisure time physical activity and regular alcohol consumption, factors that may be cardioprotective. Our aim was to investigate the association between self-reported health behaviors, coupled with clinical exam data including biochemical indicators of risk for cardiovascular disease among women who participated in the ESTHER Project (Epidemiologic STudy of HEalth Risk in Women). The ESTHER Project (2003-2006) included 1084 women 35+ years of age, over half self-identified as lesbian (n= 504). Women completed extensive questionnaires and attended clinic sessions that included standardized measurements of anthropometrics and blood pressure. Blood samples were collected and analyzed for lipid profiles, insulin, glucose, and inflammatory markers. A Framingham CHD Risk Score Calculation was generated for each woman. Univariate analyses confirmed previous findings of differences between lesbian and heterosexual women with regard to body mass index, smoking, alcohol consumption and physical activity. No significant differences were found in lipid profiles, but lesbian women did have significantly higher C-reactive protein levels and elevated blood pressure, as well an overall greater percentage of women with excess risk using the Framingham Risk Score. These findings are among the first with biochemical measurements to confirm an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease among lesbian women, and provide support for targeted intervention messages and programs.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors in adult women, specifically in relation to sexual orientation. 2. Describe the constellation of risk factors that predict an excess risk of cardiovascular events among lesbian women. 3. Identify specific risk factors that should be targeted for intervention for future prevention programs focused on lesbian women

Keywords: Lesbian Health, Epidemiology

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Co-PI of the ESTHER project.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.