Individuals who undergo hormone therapy during gender transition treatment could be at greater risk for heart disease, researchers of a new study have warned.
Cardiovascular Issues In Transgender People
Nienke Nota, from the department of endocrinology at the Amsterdam University Medical Center, and colleagues reviewed the medical records of more than 2,500 transgender women and nearly 1,400 transgender men, who received hormone treatment while undergoing gender transition.
The researchers then looked at the incidence of cardiovascular issues such as strokes, blood clots, and heart attacks among transgender people and compared this to cisgender men and women. Cis people are those whose gender matches their biological sex at birth.
After following the transwomen for an average period of nine years and the transmen for an average of eight years after starting hormone therapy, researchers found increased cardiovascular problem risks in transgender people.
They found that transwomen had more than twice the risk of suffering from stroke than cis women. They were also nearly twice as likely to suffer from stroke as cis men.
Nota and colleagues also found that deep vein clot risk among transwomen were five times higher than in cis women. Transmen also have more than thrice the risk of suffering from heart attack than cis women.
How Hormone Therapy Can Increase Cardiovascular Risk
The researchers said that hormone therapy may be largely responsible for the increased cardiovascular risk. Nota and colleagues said that estrogen promotes blood clotting. Testosterone also does the same thing by increasing the concentration of red blood cells and raising the levels of bad cholesterol, which has long been considered a risk factor in heart diseases.
The researchers nonetheless offered advice on how transgender people can reduce their risk for cardiovascular problems.
"It may be helpful to reduce risk factors by stopping smoking, exercising, eating a healthy diet and losing weight, if needed before starting therapy, and clinicians should continue to evaluate patients on an ongoing basis thereafter," Nota said.
The findings were published in the journal Circulation on Feb. 18.