BackgroundTrauma exposure and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have been linked to myocardial infarction and stroke in women, with biological and behavioral mechanisms implicated in underlying risk. The third most common cardiovascular illness, venous thromboembolism (VTE), is a specific health risk for women. Given previous associations with other cardiovascular diseases, we hypothesized that high levels of trauma and PTSD symptoms would be associated with higher risk of incident VTE in younger and middle-aged women.
Methods and resultsWe used proportional hazards models to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% CIs for new-onset VTE (960 events) over 22 years in 49 296 women in the Nurses' Health Study II. Compared to no trauma exposure, both trauma exposure and PTSD symptoms were significantly associated with increased risk of developing VTE, adjusting for demographics, family history, and childhood adiposity. Women with the most PTSD symptoms exhibited the greatest risk elevation: trauma/6 to 7 symptoms: HR=2.42 (95% CI, 1.83-3.20); trauma/4 to 5 symptoms: HR=2.00 (95% CI, 1.55-2.59); trauma/1 to 3 symptoms: HR=1.44 (95% CI, 1.12-1.84); trauma/no symptoms: HR=1.72 (95% CI, 1.43-2.08). Results were similar, although attenuated, when adjusting for VTE-relevant medications, medical conditions, and health behaviors.
ConclusionsWomen with the highest PTSD symptom levels had nearly a 2-fold increased risk of VTE compared to women without trauma exposure in fully adjusted models. Trauma exposure alone was also associated with elevated VTE risk. Trauma and PTSD symptoms may be associated with a hypercoagulable state. Treatment providers should be aware that women with trauma exposure and PTSD symptoms may be vulnerable to VTE.