Stress related disorders — conditions triggered by a significant life event or trauma — may be linked to a heightened risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), 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, was particularly high in the first six months after diagnosis of a stress related disorder, and within the first year for other types of CVD.

Most people are, at some point during their life, exposed to psychological trauma or stressful life events such as the death of a loved one, 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 to significant life events or trauma are linked to the development of CVD.

But previous studies have mainly focused 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, data on the effects of stress reactions on different types of CVD are limited.

Read more at BMJ