Researchers at Harvard and Johns Hopkins have released the results of a 14-year study on women with symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and heart disease. The results were very interesting, to say the least: Women who had at least five symptoms of PTSD were at an increased risk for developing heart disease. The risk factor increased by 300 percent.
PTSD falls under the category of anxiety disorders, which affect approximately 10 percent of the general population. Both children and adults can develop symptoms, which can be so severe that they interfere with normal living.
After being involved in a traumatic event, such as an accident, natural disaster, combat, or being the victim of a crime, the individual may start to experience flashbacks or nightmares. In the second phase of the disorder, the person feels emotionally numb and starts to avoid places or circumstances that remind them of the traumatic event.
As the disorder progressed, the person may have difficulty sleeping. Insomnia is common for people with PTSD, and they may have trouble focusing on tasks they need to perform. Some people living with PTSD become more aggressive as the disorder develops.
The results of the study into PTSD and heart disease in women point to women with the disorder being identified as an “at risk” portion of the population. Not only do they need to get treatment for the PTSD, but they must also be made aware of the increased risk of heart disease the disorder poses for them. Doctors need to provide information about ways to reduce the risk and encourage their patients to implement them at a time when they are not feeling at their best. The results of this study underscore the need for women with PTSD to seek prompt treatment for the condition, since there can be serious health consequences along with the effects of the PTSD itself.