A new study suggested that lesbian and bisexual women have a higher risk of heart disease due to abuse and trauma, according to Gay Star News.

Results found that lesbian and bi women exhibited higher instances of stress, obesity, tobacco use, and binge drinking – all factors that can lead to greater risk of heart disease. While researchers aren’t sure why lesbian and bisexual women exhibit these factors, they suspect abuse, neglect, and other trauma may play a role.

Researchers studied 547 sexual minority women, measuring three forms of childhood trauma – physical abuse, sexual abuse, and parent neglect – and three forms of adult trauma – physical abuse, sexual abuse, and intimate partner violence. Researchers also studied lifetime trauma: the sum of childhood and adulthood trauma.

Researchers analyzed the association between increasing trauma severity and higher reports of cardiovascular risk factors. The study found that lesbian and bisexual women with increased severity of trauma throughout any stages of life exhibit a higher risk of post-traumatic stress disorder and a perception of less social support.

The study also found that lesbian and bisexual women were 30 percent more likely to have anxiety if they experienced more forms of adulthood trauma. They were also 41 percent more likely to be depressed if they reported increased forms of childhood trauma and 22 percent more likely if they had experienced more forms of lifetime trauma.

Lesbian and bisexual women were also 4 percent more likely to report overeating in the past three months if they experienced increased forms of childhood trauma and 58 percent more likely to have diabetes if they experienced increasing severity of childhood trauma. Lifetime trauma increased risks of obesity and high blood pressure.

The findings of this study will be presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2018. As for the outcome of the study, researchers suggest healthcare providers screen for trauma as a cardiovascular disease risk factor among lesbian and bisexual women.

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