Post-traumatic stress disorder symptom duration and remission in relation to cardiovascular disease risk among a large cohort of women
Prior studies suggest that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with elevated cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk, but effects of duration and remission of PTSD symptoms have rarely been evaluated.
We examined the association of time-updated PTSD symptom severity, remission and duration with incident CVD risk (552 confirmed myocardial infarctions or strokes) over 20 years in 49 859 women in the Nurses’ Health Study II. Among women who reported trauma on the Brief Trauma Questionnaire, PTSD symptoms, assessed by a screener, were classified by symptom severity and chronicity: (a) no symptoms, (b) 1–3 ongoing, (c) 4–5 ongoing, (d) 6–7 ongoing, (e) 1–3 remitted, (f) 4–7 remitted symptoms. Inverse probability weighting was used to estimate marginal structural logistic regression models, adjusting for time-varying and time-invariant confounders.
Compared with women with no trauma exposure, women with trauma/no PTSD [odds ratio (OR) 1.30, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.03–1.65] and women with trauma/6–7 symptoms (OR 1.69, 95% CI 1.08–2.63) had elevated risk of CVD; women with remitted symptoms did not have elevated CVD risk. Among women exposed to trauma, every 5 additional years of PTSD symptomology was associated with 9% higher CVD incidence compared with women with trauma/no PTSD.
The findings suggest that alleviating PTSD symptoms shortly after onset may attenuate CVD risk.
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- Psychological Medicine