Do Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Affect Stoke Risk

People who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or non-binary may have a higher risk for stroke at a younger age, as well as a possible higher risk for recurrence than those who identify as straight and cisgender, according to a small study in San Francisco.

Researchers from UC San Francisco and Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital (ZSFG) reviewed the medical records of 26 stroke patients who identified as sexual and gender minorities and compared them with 78 age-matched stroke patients who were not sexual and gender minorities. Findings appear in Neurology Clinical Practice on Jan 18., 2023.

While stroke subtypes and traditional stroke risks, such as smoking, hypertension and diabetes, were similar for both groups, the sexual and gender minority patients were more likely to have “non-traditional stroke risks.” These included HIV and current or previous history of syphilis and hepatitis C, conditions that can increase stroke risk as a result of inflammation and blockage of blood vessels.


“While positivity rates were higher for substance abuse, as well as HIV, hepatitis C and syphilis for people in the sexual and minority group, they were more likely to be tested, which may account for them,” said senior author, Nicole Rosendale, MD, a neurohospitalist in the UCSF Department of Neurology and ZSFG.

Of those patients tested for HIV, 8 of the 23 (34.8%) in the sexual and gender minority group were positive, versus none of the 36 patients in the non-minority group. For hepatitis C, 4 of 14 (28.5%) patients tested in the minority group had or had had the virus, compared with 4 of 19 (21%) in the