Transgender women who receive hormone therapy to support their transition from male to female are at higher risk of suffering from lethal blood clots, strokes, and heart attacks, according to a new study.
It has been previously reported that transgender surgeries are on the rise in the United States, with the operation also being identified as a safe procedure. Unfortunately for transgender women, switching from male to female still carries some risks.
Health Risks For Transgender Women
According to a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine journal, transgender women receiving hormone therapy may be at a higher risk for a range of cardiovascular problems, including blood clots, strokes, and heart attacks.
The study reviewed eight years of medical records of almost 5,000 transgender patients, identifying people over the age of 18 years old who underwent hormone therapy to support their gender transition. The study then compared the records with more than 97,000 cisgender patients, whose sex at birth matches their gender identity, with similar age and health data.
The findings of the research revealed that transgender woman, transitioning from male to female, were twice as likely to contract the blood clot condition named venous thromboembolism compared to cisgender men and women. Transgender women were also discovered to be 80 percent to 90 percent more likely to suffer from a heart attack or stroke, compared to cisgender women.
Meanwhile, transgender men, transitioning from female to male, did not reveal a higher risk to these cardiovascular problems.
"This is the largest study of the health of transgender individuals on hormone therapy ever done," said one of the authors of the study, Dr. Darios Getahun, a Kaiser Permanente research scientist. "Doctors and patients need to be aware of the possibility for increased health risks for transgender women."
Should Transgender Women Stop Hormone Therapy?
More research is needed to fully understand the relationship between taking estrogen as part of hormone therapy for transgender women and an increased risk for cardiovascular problems. However, with these findings, should transgender women be concerned and think about stopping hormone therapy?
Dr. Joshua Safer, another author of the study and the executive director of Mount Sinai Hospital's Transgender Medicine Center, said that the confirmation of the higher risk among transgender women is good to know so that precaution may be taken. However, he believes that transgender women will think that the risk is worth taking, instead of skipping hormone therapy.
New York University School of Medicine's director of health disparities education, Dr. Richard Greene, reiterated that hormone therapy is a lifesaver for many transgender people, as depression and thoughts of suicide creep in if they are denied the estrogen.