Recent Blog Articles

Heart Health

Post-traumatic stress disorder: When fear strikes the heart

November 1, 2021

PTSD is linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, but experts are still untangling the connection.

Over the course of a lifetime, many people directly experience or witness harrowing events. These include serious car accidents, violent personal trauma (including sexual assault), natural or human-made disasters, and military combat. Life-threatening health conditions — such as a sudden cardiac arrest, a devastating stroke, or any illness that requires a prolonged stay in the ICU — can also leave people traumatized.

As many as one in five people with such histories experience short-term post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This debilitating mental health condition is characterized by recurrent, frightening episodes during which people relive the traumatic event. Some go on to develop long-term symptoms (see "Understanding PTSD"). Over all, about 8% of all people will develop PTSD during their lifetime, which may leave them vulnerable to other health problems.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.

Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.

  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »

I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.

Sign Me Up

Already a member? Login ».

Disclaimer:

As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

You might also be interested in…

Anxiety and Stress Disorders

Everyone worries or gets scared sometimes. But if you feel extremely worried or afraid much of the time, or if you repeatedly feel panicky, you may have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental illnesses, affecting roughly 40 million American adults each year. This Special Health Report, Anxiety and Stress Disorders, discusses the latest and most effective treatment approaches, including cognitive behavioral therapies, psychotherapy, and medications. A special section delves into alternative treatments for anxiety, such as relaxation techniques, mindfulness meditation, and biofeedback.

Read More

Free Healthbeat Signup

Get the latest in health news delivered to your inbox!

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Thanks for visiting. Don't miss your FREE gift.

The Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness, is yours absolutely FREE when you sign up to receive Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Sign up to get tips for living a healthy lifestyle, with ways to fight inflammation and improve cognitive health, plus the latest advances in preventative medicine, diet and exercise, pain relief, blood pressure and cholesterol management, and more.

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Get helpful tips and guidance for everything from fighting inflammation to finding the best diets for weight loss...from exercises to build a stronger core to advice on treating cataracts. PLUS, the latest news on medical advances and breakthroughs from Harvard Medical School experts.

BONUS! Sign up now and
get a FREE copy of the
Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Stay on top of latest health news from Harvard Medical School.

Plus, get a FREE copy of the Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness.