PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder may severely affect an individual’s ability of dealing with minor disturbances like a distressing story on the newspaper, a loud noise, etc. People are suffering from the condition also often struggle to get good sleep. Now, a new research is suggesting that PTSD, probably for causing the above mentioned mental health issues, can increase the risk of stroke and heart attack in women.
The said study was published Monday in the American Heart Association journal Circulation. During the study, researchers checked around 55,000 women who are part of the Nurses’ Health Study II.
For those who don’t know: Nurses’ Health Study II is a long-term study involving young women. The study began way back in 1989. In the 20th year of the study i.e. in 2008, participating women were asked to fill out surveys concerning traumatic events experienced by them in the past two decades. The traumatic event could be a natural disaster, physical assault and so on.
Also, the women were also asked whether they had been experiencing PTSD symptoms like recurring thoughts pertaining to the traumatic event.
The results of the survey revealed that women who got exposed to a trauma and thereafter developed four or more PTSD symptoms were at 60% higher risk of having a stroke or heart attack than women who didn’t report about any trauma. Women who experienced trauma, but didn’t report any PTSD symptom, were also found to be at 45% higher risk of having stroke and heart attack compared to their trauma-free co-participants.
Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health’s Jennifer A. Sumner, who adorns the position of a clinical psychologist at the Institute, said that the findings of this study are letting people know that PTSD not only creates issues within the mind of the sufferers but can also harm their physical health severely. Sumner is the lead author of the study.
Sumner added that through this study he and his team are looking to create awareness among patients with PTSD and their health care providers so that the cardiovascular health of those patients are monitored meticulously and proper steps are taken to prevent heart and brain disorders.
Previously, a study established links between PTSD and heart attacks and other forms of heart disease, particularly among the male war veterans. So, the team under Sumner was keener to study similar connections in women. Here, it must be noted that women remain at greater risk of developing PTSD; statistics suggests that while only 5% men get PTSD in their lifetime, the condition bothers as much as 10% women.