Researchers found that women who reported at least three traumatic experiences in their lifetime had poorer endothelial function than those who had fewer traumatic experiences. Endothelial function refers to how well the endothelium – or the layer of epithelial cells that lines the interior of the heart and blood vessels – helps to regulate the constriction and relaxation of blood vessels. Endothelial dysfunction is a considered a risk factor for heart disease. Previous research has shown that it often precedes the development of atherosclerosis, or the hardening of the arteries, and can lead to high blood pressure. The new study – led by researchers from the University Of Pittsburgh School Of Medicine in Pennsylvania – suggests that traumatic experiences could increase the risk of endothelial dysfunction in women, particularly for those who are postmenopausal. Lead study author Dr. Rebecca Thurston and colleagues recently presented their findings at The North American Menopause (NAMS) Society Annual Meeting, held in Philadelphia, PA. Past studies have looked at the association between mental stress and risk of endothelial function, but Dr. Thurston and team say that few studies have looked at how trauma influences this risk. To address this research gap, the investigators analyzed the data of 272 women who were either postmenopausal or perimenopausal. None of the women smoked.