Huan Song Associated Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics Karolinska Institutet

Stress from Traumatic Events Linked to Increased Risk of Heart Disease Interview with:

Huan Song Associated Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics Karolinska Institutet

Huan Song

Huan Song, PhD
Center of Public Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine,
University of Iceland, Reykjavík, Iceland
Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden What is the background for this study?  

Response: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) presents a group of diseases that are common and sometimes fatal in general population. The possible role of stress-related disorders in the development of CVD has been reported. However, the main body of the preceding evidence was derived from male samples (veterans or active-duty military personnel) focusing mainly on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or self-reported PTSD symptoms. Data on the role of stress-related disorders in CVD in women were, until now, limited. Although incomplete control for familial factors and co-occurring psychiatric disorder, as well as the sample size restriction, limit the solid inference on this association, especially for subtypes of CVD. What are the main findings? 

Response: The main findings of our study are patients with stress-related disorders, including but not limited to PTSD, were at a considerably excess risk of multiple types of CVDs, especially during the first year after diagnosis of a stress-related disorder. The observed association applies equally to both men and women, and is independent of familial factors, history of somatic/psychiatric diseases, and psychiatric comorbidities. What should readers take away from this report? 

Response: Experiencing severe stress reaction to traumatic life events may increase the subsequent risk of cardiovascular disease. Particularly, stress related disorder might trigger immediate cardiovascular consequences, such as sudden cardiac arrest, even in apparently healthy people. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: As a next step, well designed studies evaluating appropriate monitoring plan or interventions for reducing the CVD risk among stress-related patients will be critical. Is there anything else you would like to add? 

Response: As traumatic life experiences may be shared within families (i.e., a proportion of the reference- sibling population may also have had milder or undiagnosed stress related disorders), the reported estimates derived from our sibling-based comparisons can be conservative.



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Last Updated on April 11, 2019 by Marie Benz MD FAAD