The risk of having a stroke or heart attack is high for women who have experienced a traumatic event or post traumatic stress disorder as suggested by a recent large study. The study found women having severe PTSD with a higher risk of 60 percent of suffering a stroke or heart attack in comparison to women with no trauma experience. Women that had a traumatic event experience had a risk of 45 percent even though the researchers noted they never developed PTSD.

Symptoms of PTSD and trauma exposure

This is the first study of its kind that has zeroed in on the symptoms of PTSD and trauma exposure as well as new cardiovascular disease cases in a sample of women from the general population. Worth noting is the fact that even though this study associated trauma with an increased risk of a heart attack and stroke, there was no design of it to prove the relationship of cause and effect. There is a possibility that there are other factors that could explain such a high risk.

PTSD symptoms include having flashbacks or nightmares of the trauma, avoiding things that remind you of the trauma, being irritable, having sleeping problems and easily startling. PTSD was essentially developed by some of those women who participated in the study and they experienced extremely stressful and traumatic events like a loved one’s unexpected death, unwanted sexual contact as well as physical assault. Women have twice the likelihood of being diagnosed with PTSD than men. About 10 percent of women are likely to get PTSD. This research seems to have started the suggestion that there are higher rates of people having PTSD being diagnosed with cardiovascular disease. Almost all research done has involved men and not women.

The risks and problems associated with PTSD

Besides PTSD being a psychological problem, the condition has also been found to increase the likelihood of one having the chronic disease as noted by the researchers. Data was reviewed for nearly 50,000 women that participated in Nurse’s Health Study II. Nearly 35000 women were found to have experienced a traumatic event. Only fewer than 10000 women showed PTSD symptoms as reported in the study.

It is important that women with PTSD are aware that they have a much higher risk of getting a stroke or heart attack. Also, women diagnosed with PTSD should avoid unhealthy behaviors like taking unhealthy diets and smoking cigarettes as this could further increase the risk. While PTSD is generally a psychological problem, it has been found to impact profoundly on the person’s physical health, particularly when it comes to cardiovascular risk. Screening these women should involve screening for stroke and heart attack risks.