Physical violence may put women at an increased risk of developing heart and blood-vessel diseases, said a new study.
Researchers found that women who experience physical violence are one-and-half times more likely to have narrowing of the blood vessels in the neck that carry blood to the brain -- an early sign of increased risk for stroke -- compared to women who have not experienced violence.
"Both society and the healthcare sector need to be aware about the importance of exposure to violence as it affects not only the social well-being but also a woman's long-term health," said lead study author Mario Flores from the National Institute of Public Health of Mexico, US.
Worldwide, violence against women is a critical problem. It is established that experiencing violence can cause depression, substance abuse and other disorders in women, its possible effects are on the heart.
The team included 634 healthy women participants from Southern Mexico with the average age of 49 years.
The participants answered a questionnaire about exposure to different types of violence such as observed violence, physical or emotional neglect and physical or sexual violence both in childhood and adulthood.
They also underwent imaging tests with sound waves to measure the thickness of the blood vessels in the neck.
"Although, our findings support the theory that exposure to violence may have an impact on women's health, further analysis and studies must be performed in order to generate solid data to be able to change clinical practice and guide public health interventions," Flores said.