According to a new medical research, women who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder are more likely to suffer from heart attack, compared to the women who don’t have a history of such psychological traumatic incidents. The new study suggests that women who have suffered from PTSD have a 60% higher risk of stroke and heart attack.
In order to come to this conclusion, the researchers analyzed data from more than 50,000 women who involved in the Nurses’ Health Survey 2. After interviewing the women, about 80% of them said that they had experienced a very traumatic incident in the past. Half of these women reported having experienced three or fewer post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, while the rest of the female participants said they suffered from four or more symptoms of this disorder. Experts say that in order to be diagnosed with PTSD, one needs to have experienced at least four of the symptoms.
However, the study revealed that the women who suffered a traumatic event but did not experience any symptoms of PTSD, were also more likely to be at risk of a stroke or heart attack – about 50%. The risk remained the same with women who have suffered both psychological trauma as well as one to three symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
The experts found that a high blood pressure and unhealthy habits such as smoking were two of the factors that increased the risk of heart attack, by at least half. They believe that traumatic events can trigger unhealthy behavior, which can lead to serious health conditions.
Karestan Koenen, one of the researchers involved in the study, explained that there are many women who have suffered a traumatic event at some point in their life, but not many are aware of the dangers of such events and the impact they can have on someone’s physical health. According to Koenen, a researcher at the Columbia’s Mailman School, the new study suggests that post-traumatic stress disorder does not only affect mental health, it can also increase the risk of serious chronic diseases. Koenen said that the medical system should not treat the body and the mind as if they were two completely separate entities. Patients need to have access to health care that integrates both the mental and the physical.
The researchers detailed the findings on the link between post-traumatic stress disorder and heart attack in the journal Circulation, published with the help of the American Heart Association.
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