Having a violent encounter with an intimate partner or family member even once may increase a young adult‘s risk of having a heart attack, stroke, or hospitalization for heart failure years later, according to preliminary research.

Women, between the age of 18 to 34 years, generally experience the highest rates of intimate partner violence, according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline in the US.

“There is a growing body of evidence that links intimate partner violence — a significant mental and physical trauma — to adverse cardiovascular outcomes,” said lead study author Kathryn Recto from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

The preliminary research is set to be presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2022 in Chicago on November 5 to 7.

Intimate partner violence refers to any physical, emotional, or mental abuse or aggression occurring in a romantic relationship between a current or former spouse or dating partner.

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The analysis found that exposure to intimate partner violence or family violence was associated with at least a 34 percent higher risk for cardiovascular events and at least a 30 percent increased risk of death from any cause when adjusting for age, sex and race.

Having more than one violent episode with an intimate partner in the past year also increased the risk of death by 34 percent, and the increased risk of death was 59 percent among those who reported the violent episode involved a family member other than a spouse/lover.

The participants who reported experiencing intimate partner violence were 62 percent of black adults and 38 percent of white adults, the findings showed.

“The results suggest that intimate partner violence appears to be very much related to a higher risk of cardiovascular events or death,” Recto added.

Moreover, the authors suggested that future research should investigate the biochemical pathways that link intimate partner violence and cardiovascular disease.

“The authors were careful to adjust for other modifiable cardiovascular disease risk factors, such as smoking, alcohol, and depression, to reduce the impact of these risk factors in the analysis,” said professor Randi Foraker at Washington University School of Medicine.