According to a study published in LGBT Health, bisexual men have a higher risk for cardiovascular disease compared with heterosexual men across several modifiable risk factors. It showed that bisexual men had higher rates of several risk factors for cardiovascular disease: mental distress, obesity, hypertension, and three different measures of diabetes (medication use, medical history, and average glycosylated haemoglobin level).
Billy Caceres (NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing, New York, USA) and his co-authors examined differences in modifiable risk factors for heart disease and heart disease diagnoses in men of different sexual orientations—heterosexual, heterosexual who have sex with men, bisexual, and gay. They analysed responses from 7,731 men, aged 20 to 59, who were part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2001–2012).
The researchers found no differences in cardiovascular disease diagnoses based on sexual orientation, but risk for cardiovascular disease was more complicated. Gay men, heterosexual men, and heterosexual men who have sex with men had similar risk. Gay men reported lower binge drinking compared with heterosexual men, but otherwise few differences in health behaviours were noted. However, bisexual men had higher rates of several risk factors for cardiovascular disease relative to heterosexual men, including mental distress, obesity, and hypertension.
Caceres comments: “Our findings highlight the impact of sexual orientation, specifically sexual identity, on the cardiovascular health of men and suggest clinicians and public health practitioners should develop tailored screening and prevention to reduce cardiovascular disease risk in bisexual men.” He added that poor mental health was a recognisable risk factor for the development of heart disease,” adding: “Clinicians should be educated about sexual minority health and should routinely screen bisexual men for mental distress as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. This is particularly important as healthcare organisations increasingly include sexual orientation as part of demographic questionnaires in electronic health records.”
The researchers also note that the study underscores the importance of disaggregating analyses for gay and bisexual participants to ascertain differences in health outcomes between these subgroups.