Purpose: Intimate partner violence, a prevalent stressor for women, may influence the risk of cardiovascular disease. We estimated the association between intimate partner violence and the development of hypertension, an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease, in the Nurses' Health Study II cohort. Methods: Intimate partner violence measures included adult lifetime physical and sexual partner violence and the Women's Experiences with Battering Scale, which ascertained women's subjective experience of recent emotional abuse. Physician-diagnosed hypertension was self-reported on biennial questionnaires. We used Cox proportional hazards models to estimate the association between report of intimate partner violence in 2001 and incidence of hypertension from 2001 through 2007. Results: Of 51,434 included respondents, 22% reported being physically hurt, and 10% reported being forced into sexual activities at some point in adulthood by an intimate partner. After adjustment for confounders, physical and sexual abuse were not associated with hypertension. However, women reporting the most severe emotional abuse had a 24% increased rate of hypertension (hazard ratio 1.24; 95% confidence interval: 1.02-1.53) compared with women unexposed to emotional abuse. Conclusions: The risk of hypertension appears to be increased in the small number of women recently exposed to severe emotional abuse.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This project was supported by grants RO1HL081557 and RO1HL064108 from the National Institutes of Health .
- Battered women
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Domestic violence
- Spouse abuse