Trajectories of Cardiovascular Risk Among Sexual and Gender Minority Populations

Trajectories of Cardiovascular Risk Among Sexual and Gender Minority Populations

Researchers at New York University School of Global Public Health studied how the risk of heart disease changes over time between different ethnic/racial, sexual orientation, and gender groups.
February 24, 2023

Dr. Stephanie Cook, PhDDr. Stephanie Cook, PhDNew York University James Weldon Johnson ProfessorAssistant Professor Department of Social and Behavioral SciencesDepartment of Biostatistics Director, Attachment and Health Research Lab

Erica Wood, MPHErica Wood, MPHGraduate Trainee/Doctoral CandidateNYU School of Global Public Health

Project overview

Stephanie Cook, DrPH, MPH, has dedicated her career to understanding how discrimination impacts mental and physical health and how support from loved ones can help people cope. Using the longitudinal cohort in the All of Us dataset, Dr. Cook and doctoral student Erica Wood, MPH, explored how issues such as racism, homophobia, sexism, housing insecurity, and social support impact cardiovascular risk over time. They found that experiencing discrimination was associated with higher C-reactive protein levels among sexual and gender minority populations of color. This protein indicates when there is inflammation in a person’s body. Higher levels of C-reactive proteins can be a sign that someone is at risk for heart disease. However, Dr. Cook and Ms. Wood also found that support from a father or father figure can reduce the impact of discrimination on heart disease risk.

Dr. Cook and Ms. Wood shared what they learned about the influence of minority stressors on cardiovascular risk and outlined efforts to forge new pathways for preventing and improving heart disease in sexual and gender minority populations.

The Researcher Workbench is actually pretty simple to use in terms of setting up your study population. We were able to filter by sexual and gender minority status, so we looked at individuals who identify as non-binary or bisexual, as well as by race and ethnicity.

– Erica Wood, MPH, Doctoral student

Findings Included

“This initial work points to the fact that there are these differences in cardiovascular risk based on being a sexual and gender minority of color versus not. And now, the next step is to look at what are the particular social determinants of health that we can identify and hopefully one day intervene on?”

– Stephanie Cook, DrPH, MPH
  • Exposure to everyday discrimination is associated with greater levels of C-reactive protein among sexual and gender minority populations.
  • Individuals with greater levels of perceived support from one’s father or father figure experienced diminished associations between everyday discrimination and C-reactive protein levels.