February 5, 2021
February, more popularly known as the month of love is also the American Heart Month. Today on the International Wear Red Day , here’s looking at heart health in the context of survivors of abuse and violence.
It would be easy to guess that increased stress levels from experiences of and reactions to violence and abuse can elevate blood pressure and impact heart health. What is remarkable is how strong this link could really be, per recent research. While there is need for more comprehensive research, recent surveys with large sample size data have shown undeniable linkage between domestic violence and increased risk of death by heart disease.
In February 2020, the results of a study released from the University of Warwick and Birmingham, UK confirmed that domestic abuse raised the risk of deaths by 44 percent among survivors of abuse compared to the general population surveyed.
A 2013 PubMed and Web of Science review of peer reviewed articles shows a clear relation between violence exposure, experienced in either childhood or adulthood, and cardiovascular outcomes.
What is also worth noting is the risk of heart disease is amplified in survivors of domestic abuse, as a result of extreme stress caused by violence and abuse in their interpersonal relationships as well as their inability to prioritize their health over having to take care of safety and survival needs. They may also avoid seeking medical care to hide unexplained injuries or struggling with regular medical care or self care resources due to inhibiting factors like depression or lack of transportation means or insurance. Immigrant and refugee survivors with language access barriers or are financially dependent on their abuser are also at risk for the above mentioned reasons as well as limited multilingual resources for heart health awareness.
So this February and onwards, share love in the form of heart health awareness for survivors of violence and abuse. Because strong hearts also need regular medical care and self-care.
Cardiovascular Disease Resources in Asian Languages
Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) in Asian Languages – Medline Plus, National Institute of Minority Health & Health Disparities