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Gender-Affirming Hormone Therapy and Cardiovascular Disease

Transgender men and women need gender-affirming hormone therapy (GAHT) to help them adjust their secondary sexual features to their bodies and also ameliorate gender dysphoria.

However, this therapy has been found to have impacts on the cardiovascular health of this population of humans.

Cross-sex individuals, otherwise known as transgender men and women have an increasing population across the world. They are people whose self-identified gender differs from their assigned sex at birth, i.e., a person born as a man at birth choosing to become a woman as their expressed gender.

When individuals go through the process to help them become transgender, gender-affirming hormone therapy is important. But it is vital to understand the risks that this therapy poses to cardiovascular health.

Although many doctors and physicians prescribe GAHT to the transgender population because it improves their overall health, lifespan, and reduces gender dysphoria, this therapy is found to be associated with higher rates of hypertension, and other CV diseases.

The effects of GAHT on cardiovascular health are a bit difficult to evaluate, but several observational studies have been undertaken to review the relationship between gender-affirming hormone therapy and cardiovascular conditions such as hypertension, coronary artery disease, thrombosis, lipid abnormalities, diabetes mellitus, and others.

Some existing data hold that transgender females stand the risk of ischemic stroke and myocardial infarction as a result of estrogens used during the transitioning process. Gender-affirming hormone is also associated with a higher rate of hypertension. This is alongside confounding factors such as smoking, alcohol, HIV infection, estrogen types, comorbidities, and others.

GAHT and Transgender Health

Several pieces of research and observational studies have gone into finding out how gender-affirming hormone therapy impacts cardiovascular health.

In one of the studies where 966 transgender females and 365 transgender males were sampled, with a median follow-up of 18.5 years, the mortality rate in this population was 51% higher compared with the general population.

The high mortality rate is attributed to increased suicide, HIV infection, cardiovascular diseases, and substance abuse. Also, some people in the transgender population suffer ischemic heart disease which contributes to heart disease mortality. Research shows that individuals in the transgender population are likely to report heart attacks five times higher than the general population.

Many observational studies also reveal an increase in the record of hypertension and stroke in transgender populations.

However, it is important to know that results from researches and observational studies are inconsistent, there are still some gaps. But there are clear indications that GAHT has certain impacts on cardiovascular health.

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