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New Study Suggests Correlation Between Childhood Sex Abuse and Heart Disease in Women
Last week in our article, Nurse Triage: Handling Abuse or Neglect, we discussed the challenges telephone triage nurses face when handling abuse and neglect situations. In a related topic, a recent study finds evidence on the possible long-term health effects of abuse.
It is a well-known fact that sexual abuse during childhood leaves long-term psychological damage. However, new evidence indicates that sexual abuse has a correlation to physical health issues, as well. According to Steven Reinberg’s article on HealthDay, “Middle-aged women who were sexually abused as children may be more likely to develop early signs of heart disease…”( Reinberg,2014).
The study consisted of 1400 women of various ethnicities, between the ages of 42 and 52. Their findings included hardening of the arteries in the neck among the women who were sexually abused as children. This is an early marker of heart disease.
“Doctors should be aware of the importance of psychosocial risk factors when understanding women’s heart disease risk,” said lead researcher, Rebecca Thurston, director of the Women’s Behavioral Health Laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh (as cited in Reinberg, 2014). Discovering this evidence leads us to consider the relevance of documenting a history of sexual abuse in a patient’s medical history.
There are many uncomfortable questions that patients are asked while being triaged in a clinic or hospital. Whether they answer truthfully is their decision. However, the more health information a patient provides their physician, the better they can assess their condition and choose the best possible treatment or action.
Reinberg, S. (2014, July 17). Childhood sex abuse may be linked to heart disease risk in women. Healthday.
Retrieved from http://consumer.healthday.com/circulatory-system-information-7/coronary-and-artery-news-356/women-with-history-of-sexual-abuse-vulnerable-to-heart-disease-study-689848.html