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September 25, 2019

Women who 'self-silence' are at a greater risk for stroke, study says

Women who don't express their emotions are 14% more likely to have greater plaque buildup

If you rarely express your feelings in relationships or in other interactions, you may be increasing your odds of having a stroke. 

Women who suppress their emotional expressions – also known as "self-silencing" – have a greater risk of carotid plaque buildup, according to a new study presented at the North American Menopause Society's annual meeting in Chicago.

Researchers gave questionnaires to 304 perimenopausal and postmenopausal women, aged 40 to 60. They asked how often the women use self-silencing tactics, such as hiding emotions, like anger, or putting the needs of others before their own.

Women who engaged in "self-silencing" were 14% more likely to have greater amounts of plaque buildup in their arteries, the study found. 

Researchers largely attributed the plaque buildup to "self-silencing" as opposed to other common cardiovascular risks, including socio-demographic factors and depression.

The additional plaque found in the carotid artery can lead to a greater risk of having a stroke, heart attack, or other cardiovascular problems, researchers said. 

Past studies have shown that women who report more "self-silencing" tactics also tend to report symptoms of depression and anger, which can lead to cardiovascular disease. However, this was the first study to examine the direct effects on cardiovascular health. 

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