AHA: Childhood Abuse Predicts CVD Risk in Adult Women

Severe abuse during childhood tied more strongly to stroke than myocardial infarction

MONDAY, Nov. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Exposure to severe physical and sexual abuse in childhood or adolescence increases the risk for confirmed cardiovascular disease (CVD) events in adult women, according to a study presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2011, held from Nov. 12 to 16 in Orlando, Fla.

Janet Rich-Edwards, Sc.D., M.P.H., from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and colleagues investigated whether child and adolescent physical and sexual abuse had a dose-response association with the risk of confirmed CVD events in adult women. Child and adolescent abuse reported in 2001 was correlated with confirmed CVD events from 1989 to 2007 in 67,102 women.

The investigators found that, compared to no physical abuse, multivariable adjusted hazard ratios [HRs] for cardiovascular events were 0.91 (95 percent confidence interval [CI], 0.70 to 1.17), 1.03 (95 percent CI, 0.83 to 1.27), and 1.45 (95 percent CI, 1.10-1.90) for mild, moderate, and severe physical abuse, respectively. The HRs for unwanted sexual touching, one episode of forced sexual activity, and repeated forced sex were 1.10 (95 percent CI, 0.89 to 1.36), 1.56 (95 percent CI, 1.14 to 2.15), and 1.62 (95 percent CI, 1.17 to 2.22), respectively, compared to women reporting no abuse. Severe abuse correlated more strongly with stroke than with myocardial infarction. Forty-one percent of the correlation between CVD and severe physical abuse, and 37 percent of the correlation between CVD and forced sex were accounted for by adult body mass index, smoking, alcohol use, hypertension, and diabetes.

"Severe physical and sexual abuse in childhood and adolescence are prevalent risk factors for heightened CVD risk in adult women," the authors write.

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