Smoking, obesity, a poor diet, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and poor sleep can all increase your risk of heart disease. But there is another factor that can increase your risk of heart disease far more than these other risk factors. That is experiencing a traumatic event.
A recent study uncovered that there is mounting evidence that psychological and social aspects can affect heart health.
For the study, the researchers examined whether experiencing a lot of traumatic events over one’s lifetime could increase the risk of poor endothelial function. The endothelium is the inner lining of the heart and the blood vessels.
Traumatic experiences were defined as events such as sexual harassment, the death of a child, a car accident, a natural disaster, or being beaten or mugged.
The researchers found that women who reported three or more traumatic experiences were more likely to have poor endothelial function. This risk was highest if women had gone through menopause.
The researchers looked at 272 peri- and post-menopausal women who were all non-smokers. It is well known that during the transition of menopause women’s risk of heart disease.
Lead author Dr. Rebecca Thurston explained, “These findings underscore the importance of psychosocial factors, such as trauma exposure, in the development of heart disease risk in midlife women.”
The executive director of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton added, “Given the large percentage of post-menopausal women affected by heart disease, this is an important study that should remind healthcare providers of the need to thoroughly discuss a woman’s history beyond simply asking about her physical health.”
The World Health Organization has identified eight main risk factors for heart disease which include alcohol use, tobacco use, high blood pressure, high body mass index, high cholesterol, high blood glucose, low fruit and vegetable intake, and physical inactivity.