Study: Women with PTSD at Higher Risk for Heart Attack, Stroke

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Women with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have a significantly elevated risk of heart attack and stroke, according to the findings of a new study.

Researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health examined the records of 49,978 women, analyzing factors such as exposure to trauma, PTSD symptoms, and cardiovascular incidents over a 20 year period. It is the first study to examine the links between PTSD and cardiovascular disease exclusively in women.

The study found that women with PTSD had a 60% higher chance of suffering a heart attack or stroke. Moreover, women who had experienced a traumatic event but did not exhibit symptoms of PTSD have a 45% higher cardiovascular risk.

“PTSD is generally considered a psychological problem, but the take-home message from our findings is that it also has a profound impact on physical health, especially cardiovascular risk,” wrote lead author Dr. Jennifer Sumner.

In the study, behaviors like smoking, obesity, and inactivity joined with high blood pressure to account for nearly half of the connections between PTSD and heart disease.

Most previous studies on PTSD and cardiovascular disease have focused on military veterans, the majority of whom are men. But the Columbia University researchers say that PTSD is twice in prevalent in women as in men.

Do you or someone you care about have PTSD? See if you qualify for Segal Institute’s clinical research study on PTSD today!


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