Stress related disorders conditions triggered by a significant life event or trauma—may be linked to a heightened risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD); hence finds a large Swedish study published in The BMJ today. The risk of severe and acute CVD events, such as cardiac arrest and heart attack; so it was particularly high in the first six months after diagnosis of a stress relate disorder, and within the first year for other types of CVD.
Most people are, at some point during their life, expose to psychological trauma or stressful life events such as the death of a love one; so a diagnosis of a life threatening illness, natural disasters, or violence, write the authors. And there is building evidence which suggests that severe stress reactions; hence to significant life events or trauma are link to the development of CVD.
Effects of stress reactions
But previous studies have mainly focus on male veterans or those currently active in the military with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or PTSD symptoms. And because of the smaller size of these samples; so data on the effects of stress reactions on different types of CVD are limited.
So to shed some light on this, researchers use Swedish population and health registers; hence to explore the role of clinically diagnosed PTSD, acute stress reaction, adjustment disorder, and other stress reactions in the development of CVD. They controlled for family background; also medical history, and underlying psychiatric conditions.
The researchers matched 136,637 people from an “expose cohort” who were diagnose; with a stress relate disorder between January 1987 and December 2013 with 171,314 full siblings who were free of stress relate disorders and CVD. For each expose person, 10 people from the general population; hence who are unaffect by stress relate disorders and CVD at the date of diagnosis of the “expose” patient were randomly select.
Exposed and unexpose people were then individually match by birth year and sex. Severe stress reactions to significant life events or trauma were link to a heighten risk of several types of CVD; so especially during the first year after diagnosis, with a 64% higher risk; so among people with a stress relate disorder compare to their unaffected sibling.
Stress related disorder
The findings were similar for people with a stress related disorder compare to the general population. And there was a stronger link between stress relate disorders and early onset CVD cases of disease; which develop before the age of 50 than later onset ones. Out of all studied CVDs, the excess risk during the first year was strongest for heart failure; also for major blood clots (embolism and thrombosis) after one year.
There were similar associations across sex, calendar period, medical history, and family history of CVD. But those who were diagnose with a stress disorder at a younger age as a heighten risk of CVD. This is an observational study base on the Swedish population and, as such, can’t establish cause. The authors point out evidence from other studies suggesting a biological link between severe stress reactions and cardiovascular disease development.
And they can’t rule out the role of other unmeasured behavioural factors, such as smoking and alcohol intake. But they say that their study is the first to explore the association between a number of stress relate disorders, including but not limit to PTSD, and several types of CVD using sibling-base comparisons, among both men and women.
These findings call for enhance clinical awareness and, if verified; so monitoring or early intervention among patients with recently diagnose stress relate disorders,” they conclude. In the future, well design studies evaluating more appropriate interventions will be critical, not only to confirm the inferences of the new study but also to provide real benefits to patients,” they concludes.