Some Medical Trauma Might Induce Later PTSD

Posttraumatic stress (PTSD) is most often associated with devastating life events and traumas such as grieving a death, violence, childhood maltreatment, or childhood sexual abuse. The effects of PTSD can be long lasting and can have a significant negative impact on a person’s ability to function and maintain their overall psychological well-being. PTSD has also been shown to lead to an increased risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular problems.

Further, PTSD that develops as a result of a cardiovascular event can double the risk for future heart-related problems and death. Therefore, it is imperative that people who experience a stroke or mini-stroke (TIA) are assessed and monitored for PTSD in the months immediately following their cardiac event.

In an effort to better assess how PTSD is linked to cardiac issues, Donald Edmondson of the Center for Behavioral Cardiovascular Health at Columbia University Medical Center in New York recently conducted a meta-analysis on nine studies that included 1,138 participants. He looked at strokes and TIAs that had happened in the month preceding the PTSD evaluation. He found that 23% of the participants developed PTSD within the first month after their cardiac event and an additional 11% developed it within the first year after their stroke or TIA. Overall, the rate of PTSD among TIA/stroke survivors was 13%.

Edmondson believes the findings of this study are significant and that clinicians, especially cardiac specialists and primary care doctors, are most impacted by these results. Because these doctors are among the first to examine clients after a cardiac problem, they are also the first to potentially see symptoms of PTSD. Early identification and diagnosis of PTSD could not only improve the physical recovery from the cardiac event, but also have a dramatic positive effect on overall psychological well-being.

Because stroke and TIA are risk factors for PTSD, and PTSD is a risk factor for further cardiac issues, broad screening methods should be implemented to decrease both PTSD and future cardiac problems. “In the meantime,” added Edmondson, “Clinicians should be mindful that PTSD can be a devastating mental health condition and should consider screening for PTSD in stroke survivors.”

Edmondson, D., Richardson, S., Fausett, J.K., Falzon, L., Howard, V.J., et al. (2013). Prevalence of PTSD in survivors of stroke and transient ischemic attack: A meta-analytic review. PLoS ONE 8(6): e66435. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0066435

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  • Devon


    July 16th, 2013 at 10:39 PM

    This shows how little attention we currently play to many factors that could exacerbate health problems.if there is stroke not only is medication important but also mental health,prevention of trauma and a good diet.all these things can make or break things when it comes to risk for further problems.and they definitely deserve attention.

  • cynthia


    July 17th, 2013 at 4:15 AM

    You never think about a medical emergency bringing on PTSD, you know, I always thought like being robbed or harmed some way like that. Think about it though, like how scary it must be to endure a stroke or a heart attack or something, how you feel absolutley no control over your body and how scary that too must feel. And then thinking about the possibility of it happening again? Which would be a lot more likely than getting robbed again? That has to take a mental toll on somebody, so yeah, I can see this.

  • Franklin


    July 18th, 2013 at 4:22 AM

    Or think about someone who has been in a real life surgical emergency
    Something went wrong with a procedure or operation that they had to have
    Can’t you see how traumatic it might be for them the next time they have to have something similar done?

  • Sian


    August 5th, 2013 at 4:49 PM

    As a 44 year old female with four gorgeous children I am the survivor of four massive heart attacks.with no previous history of heart problems low blood pressure low cholesterol nonsmoker/non drinker fit I was delighted to survive my first event three years ago.what I couldn’t understand was the absolute helplessness tiredness fearfulness and angst that overwhelmed me six months later . luckily my cardiologist was awsre of this possible outcome and with low dose antidepressants meditation and more community help for every day chores I slowly saw the light at the end of the tunnel . almost six months to the day of my most recent hesrt attack the symptoms returned, but I remain confident that this is a temporary state and being informed and aware has made all the difference. Watch out for those in similar situations- your intervention may be yhe difference between recovery and death

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