Interpersonal Trauma and Risk of Incident Cardiovascular Disease Events Among Women

Rebecca C. Thurston, Yuefang Chang, Karen A. Matthews, Sioban Harlow, Samar R. El Khoudary, Imke Janssen, Carol Derby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Traumatic experiences have been linked to risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Interpersonal violence is a trauma that is prevalent in women. Among midlife women followed up for 2 decades, we examined whether interpersonal violence (childhood abuse, adulthood abuse, or intimate partner violence [IPV]) was related to increased risk of subsequent clinical CVD events. METHODS AND RESULTS: A total of 2201 women, aged 42 to 52 years at baseline, underwent up to 16 in-person visits over 22 years. Measures included questionnaires (including of childhood physical/sexual abuse, adult physical/sexual abuse, and IPV), physical measures, phlebotomy, and reported CVD events (myocardial infarction, stroke, heart failure, and revascularization). Death certificates were collected. Relationships between childhood abuse, adult abuse, and IPV with incident fatal/ nonfatal CVD were tested in Cox proportional hazards models. Women with a childhood abuse history had increased risk for incident CVD (versus no abuse; hazard ratio [HR] [95% CI], 1.65 [1.12–2.44]; P=0.01; adjusted for demographics and CVD risk factors); associations were strongest for childhood sexual abuse. Adult abuse was not significantly associated with CVD. Women with IPV had a doubling of risk for incident CVD in demographic-adjusted models (versus no IPV; IPV: HR [95% CI], 2.06 [1.01–4.23]; P=0.04; no partner: HR [95% CI], 1.79 [0.91–3.53]; P=0.09); systolic blood pressure partially mediated relationships between IPV and CVD. CONCLUSIONS: Childhood abuse, particularly sexual abuse, was associated with increased risk of CVD in women. IPV was associated with risk for CVD, with the higher systolic blood pressure among IPV-exposed women important in these associations. Interpersonal violence prevention may contribute to CVD risk reduction in women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere024724
JournalJournal of the American Heart Association
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 5 2022


  • cardiovascular disease
  • trauma
  • violence
  • women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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