Trauma Takes a Toll on the Heart
Traumatic life experiences such as losing a child, being in a natural disaster, or being a victim of sexual harassment, physical abuse, or violent crime can raise heart disease risk in women. That’s the conclusion of researchers presenting their findings this week at the North American Menopause Society Annual Meeting in Philadelphia.
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh evaluated the functioning of the endothelium - the inner lining of the heart and blood vessels) - in 272 peri- and postmenopausal non-smoking women. Previous research has shown that, after menopause, women are at increased risk for heart disease in general. In this study, the researchers found that women who had experienced three or more traumatic life events had poorer endothelial function, which is one risk factor for heart disease and cardiac events such as heart attack and stroke.