OCT 13, 2021 8:08 PM PDT

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and Stroke: Far More Than Meets the Eye

There are few acute medical conditions more devastating than a stroke. Contrary to popular belief, not all stroke victims are elderly. In fact, over a third of all patients hospitalized due to stroke are less than sixty-five years of age. We typically think of stroke victims as having risk factors such as smoking and high blood pressure. However, a commonly overlooked risk factor for stroke is Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. PTSD is a condition marked by strong physiological responses to a previously experienced traumatic event. Such responses, such as recurring nightmares and flashbacks, can be highly debilitating. A literature review published in May 2021 aimed to understand the association between PTSD and stroke.

This review highlights multiple studies showing that PTSD is linked to risk factors that can contribute to the development of stroke. For example, there is strong evidence from a systematic review that included 45 studies that demonstrated a high potential for a causal link between smoking and PTSD. Smoking is a significant risk factor for stroke and is extremely harmful to health in general. Multiple meta-analyses demonstrate that other risk factors for stroke are commonly associated with PTSD as well, such as obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

Certain associations are less understood, and their underlying mechanisms are yet to be defined. It is well known that having heart arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation (AF) can increase your risk of stroke. The results of a large cohort study of over 1 million young and middle-aged adults published in 2019 demonstrated an association between PTSD and early onset of AF.

The impact of PTSD can be extremely severe and last for decades after the original traumatic event. This work demonstrates that PTSD is far more than just an augmented stress response or psychological phenomenon, but rather a very real illness that has the potential to produce devastating physical and neurological consequences. Given the significant association between PTSD and stroke, healthcare providers should consider the use of screening tools to assess the presence of prior trauma in those who have experienced a stroke and pay close attention to the interplay that may exist between past trauma and many known cardiovascular risk factors.

 

 

 

Sources: CDC, NIH, Journal of the American Heart Association,

About the Author
  • Dr. Christopher DiMaio is a Science Writer at Labroots. He received his MD from Penn State College of Medicine in 2014. His academic and professional interests include Neuroscience, Behavioral health, Immunology, and Healthcare improvement, among others. He is an active part of his community.
You May Also Like
MAY 31, 2021
Cardiology
OCD Linked to Increased Risk of Ischemic Stroke
MAY 31, 2021
OCD Linked to Increased Risk of Ischemic Stroke
Researchers have found that adults with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are over 3 times more likely to have an isch ...
JUN 21, 2021
Health & Medicine
Essential Hypertension: The Basics
JUN 21, 2021
Essential Hypertension: The Basics
Also known as primary hypertension, essential hypertension is high blood pressure without a specific, known cause. It is ...
JUL 29, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
Obesity May Not Always Lead to Disease
JUL 29, 2021
Obesity May Not Always Lead to Disease
Some gene variants might be protecting people from the negative health effects of obesity.
SEP 14, 2021
Health & Medicine
The Magnitude of Cardiovascular Disease- New Insights and Ways Forward
SEP 14, 2021
The Magnitude of Cardiovascular Disease- New Insights and Ways Forward
Among healthcare professionals, it is common knowledge that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the ...
SEP 29, 2021
Cardiology
New Evidence on the Association between Nitrogen Dioxide Emissions and Cardiovascular Disease
SEP 29, 2021
New Evidence on the Association between Nitrogen Dioxide Emissions and Cardiovascular Disease
Human activities such as burning fossil fuels have been the primary driver of climate change over the past two centuries ...
OCT 07, 2021
Health & Medicine
A School-based Approach to Combatting Adolescent Obesity
OCT 07, 2021
A School-based Approach to Combatting Adolescent Obesity
It should come as no surprise that obesity is a significant public health concern associated with astronomical economic ...
Loading Comments...