SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Members of the LGBTQ community may be at a higher risk for stroke at a younger age, according to a new study from the University of California San Francisco and Zuckerberg General Hospital.

Researchers with the study reviewed medical records of 26 stroke patients who also identified as “sexual and gender minorities.” These records were compared with 78 stroke patients who did not identify as sexual or gender minorities.

The study found that the sexual and gender minority patients were more likely to experience non-traditional stroke risks. These non-traditional risks included HIV, a current or previous history of syphilis and hepatitis C — all of which can increase stroke risk due to inflammation and blood vessel blockage.

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According to Dr. Nicole Rosendale, a senior author of the study, the LGBTQ group faced higher positivity rates for non-traditional risks. This may be because the group is more likely to get tested than straight people who identify with the gender they were assigned at birth, commonly referred to as cisgendered.

Previous studies have shown that the prevalence of HIV and syphilis is highest in transgender women, and in gay and bisexual cisgender men. Stroke risk appears to be higher in lesbian women than in straight women, with one study showing that they had higher rates of self-reported stroke. There may be many reasons for this – higher rates of smoking, higher prevalence of obesity, effects of discrimination on vascular health and limited access to health care.

Dr. Nicole Rosendale, UCSF Dept. of Neurology

Dr. Rosendale went on to say that stroke risk appears to be higher in lesbian women than in straight women, after one study that showed they had higher rates of self-reported strokes. “There may be many reasons for this – higher rates of smoking, higher prevalence of obesity, effects of discrimination on vascular health and limited access to health care,” she said.

The study also revealed that the LGBTQ group was more likely to suffer from recurrent stroke though they had similar follow-up rates as the non-minority group. Dr. Rosendale hopes that future research will lead to more answers, particularly around the stress the LGBTQ group experiences and its potential impacts, “Stigma, prejudice and discrimination create an inherently stressful environment that translates into health issues.”