Trauma exposure and the subsequent risk of coronary heart disease among mid-aged women

J Behav Med. 2015 Feb;38(1):57-65. doi: 10.1007/s10865-014-9577-2. Epub 2014 Jun 13.


The objective of the current study was to examine whether exposure to trauma in the form of a history of physical, mental, emotional or sexual abuse or violence predicted new onset of coronary heart disease (CHD) in women. In addition, this study aimed to examine the mediation effects of psychological, lifestyle and health related factors in the abuse-CHD relationship. Data from 6 surveys over 15 years, from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health, a large prospective cohort study, were used. Participants from the 1946-1951 cohort who did not self-report heart disease at surveys 1 (1996) and 2 (1998) and who had provided information on other variables were included (n = 9,276). After adjusting for age, women who reported trauma exposure at baseline were 1.54 times more likely (95% confidence interval 1.29-1.83) to report new onset of CHD than those who did not report trauma exposure. The association between trauma and CHD was largely explained by psychological factors, suggesting a direct pathway between exposure to trauma and risk of CHD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult Survivors of Child Abuse / psychology*
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Coronary Disease / epidemiology
  • Coronary Disease / psychology*
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress Disorders, Traumatic / epidemiology
  • Stress Disorders, Traumatic / psychology*
  • Violence / psychology*
  • Women's Health*