PTSD and Cardiovascular Disease Risk

Much of our work focuses on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a psychological mechanism underlying the link between trauma and cardiovascular disease risk (CVD). PTSD is the quintessential trauma-related mental disorder, characterized by symptoms of re-experiencing of the trauma, avoidance of trauma reminders, arousal, and negative alterations in cognition and mood. Our research suggests that the impact of PTSD does not end with the mind but also extends to the heart.

However, PTSD is not the only mental disorder that can onset after trauma. Indeed, other psychiatric conditions that have been linked to CVD risk, such as depression and substance abuse, are also common after trauma exposure. Accordingly, Dr. Sumner and her colleague Dr. Jaimie Gradus are harnessing a unique prospective, population-based registry cohort of over 1 million trauma-exposed individuals to identify the manifestations of posttraumatic psychopathology most associated with CVD onset in a national sample of Danish men and women.