In support of Pride Month, the American Heart Association announced Tuesday that it is promoting awareness and health education for all people across the spectrum of diversity, including those who identify as LGBTQ+.

According to the AHA’s 2021 scientific statement “Assessing and Addressing Cardiovascular Health in People Who Are Transgender and Gender Diverse,” higher levels of heart disease among transgender and gender diverse (TGD) people are linked to the stress of experiencing discrimination and transphobia at personal and societal levels. This population faces unique personal stressors that often result in negative coping behaviors that may complicate an individual’s cardiovascular health including a poor diet, elevated body mass index, low physical activity and a smoking rate up to 2.5 times higher than heterosexual and cisgender adults.

“Recognizing and addressing the health care needs specific to the LGBTQ+ community is vital to the American Heart Association’s mission,” volunteer president of the American Heart Association Michelle A. Albert, M.D., M.P.H. said in the organization’s newsroom announcement. “More research and advocacy are needed to understand this community’s unique health challenges. The Association is helping fill in the gap by funding innovative research, advocating for public health equity and sharing easily accessible lifesaving resources.”

The American Heart Association has defined key measures for improving and maintaining cardiovascular health. Life’s Essential 8, focuses on eating better, increasing physical activity, quitting smoking, and improving sleep habits, while also recommending steps that can be taken to reach a healthy weight, control cholesterol, and manage both blood sugar and blood pressure.

Education about health risk factors and incorporating and addressing these eight items may be the key to improving and maintaining cardiovascular health as they provide a foundation for living a longer, healthier life.

The Association supports public policies that improve access to quality, affordable health care, including provisions of the Affordable Care Act that have increased the number of people with quality health coverage. AHA also supports policies that prevent the tobacco industry from targeting LGBTQ+ communities “with deadly tobacco products.” AHA also works to educate youth and young adults who are LGBTQ+ and their allies about the importance of advocating for such policies.

Watch AHA CEO Nancy Brown’s message below:

Additional Resources:

—From staff reports