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Female Childhood Sexual Abuse Victims Have Higher Risk of Heart Attacks and Strokes

ernstl, Flickr

While the focus of the recent scandal at Penn State has been on sexual abuse victims who are boys, new research finds that girls who are abused will deal with more than just emotional problems.

A recent study says female victims are  predisposed to heart problems when they get older.

Data culled from a study of more than 67,000 nurses found that repeated episodes of forced sex in childhood or adolescence translated into a 62 percent higher risk of heart attacks and strokes later in life. In addition, women who had endured physical violence as children had a 45 percent higher risk of heart trouble.

Researchers said much of the effect was related to higher rates of obesity, smoking, alcohol use, high blood pressure and diabetes among abuse victims.

Janet Rich-Edwards, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, who led the study, said in a statement, “The single biggest factor explaining the link between severe child abuse and adult cardiovascular disease was the tendency of abused girls to have gained more weight throughout adolescence and into adulthood…We need to learn more about specific psychological, lifestyle, and medical interventions to improve the health of abuse survivors.”


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