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New Studies Reveal Women With PTSD Face Higher Risk Of Heart Attack

woman-xray-heart_230resizedAccording to a new study, women who have suffered post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are at greater risk of heart attacks than those who have never experienced such trauma. Researchers have concluded that strokes and heart attacks are 60 percent more frequent in these subjects than in the general population.

The study surveyed 50,000 females as a part of the Nurses’ Health Survey 2. Nearly 80 percent of the women studied reported experiencing an extremely traumatic event sometime during their lives. Of these, half reported three or fewer PTSD symptoms. The remainder of the females stated they had four or more signs of the disorder. Four symptoms is the general cut-off for a PTSD diagnosis.

High blood pressure and smoking are believed to be responsible for half of the increased risk, according to researchers. Experts believe the unhealthy behaviors, driven by harmful events, could pose additional health risks to women, in addition to the damage done to the body by memories of the events.

“Most women experience psychological trauma at some point in their lives, but few know that there could be severe long-term repercussions for physical health. Our results provide further evidence that PTSD is not solely a mental health problem, but also increases the risk of chronic disease,” said Karestan Koenen of Columbia’s Mailman School, senior author of the study.

The researchers who conducted the study urge women who have suffered any type of traumatic events in their lives to talk to their physicians about how they can lower their risk of cardiovascular disease. This includes women who have not experienced any symptoms of PTSD.

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