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Am J Prev Med. 2015 Feb;48(2):205-212. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2014.09.013.

Violence and cardiovascular health: a systematic review.

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Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, New York. Electronic address:
Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, New York.



Violence, experienced in either childhood or adulthood, has been associated with physical health outcomes, including cardiovascular disease. However, the consistency of the existing literature has not been evaluated.


In 2013, the authors conducted a PubMed and Web of Science review of peer-reviewed articles published prior to August 2013 on the relation between violence exposure, experienced in either childhood or adulthood, and cardiovascular outcomes. To meet inclusion criteria, articles had to present estimates for the relation between violence exposure and cardiovascular outcomes (e.g., hypertension, blood pressure, stroke, coronary disease, or myocardial infarction) adjusted for demographic factors. Articles focusing on violence from television, video games, natural disasters, terrorism, or war were excluded.


The initial search yielded 2,273 articles; after removing duplicates and applying inclusion and exclusion criteria, 30 articles were selected for review. A consistent positive relation was noted on the association between violence experienced during childhood and cardiovascular outcomes in adulthood (i.e., hypertension, coronary heart disease, and myocardial infarction). Associations across genders with varying types of violence exposure were also noted. By contrast, findings were mixed on the relation between adult violence exposure and cardiovascular outcome.


Despite varying definitions of violence exposure and cardiovascular endpoints, a consistent relation exists between childhood violence exposure, largely assessed retrospectively, and cardiovascular endpoints. Findings are mixed for the adult violence-cardiovascular health relation. The cross-sectional nature of most adult studies and the reliance of self-reported outcomes can potentially be attributed to the lack of findings among adult violence exposure studies.

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