Changes in Life Circumstances and Mental Health Symptoms during the COVID-19 Pandemic among Midlife Women with Elevated Risk for Cardiovascular Disease

Megan M. Brown, Danielle Arigo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains the leading cause of death among women. During midlife (ages 40–60), universal aging processes, sex-specific factors such as menopause, psychological distress, and conditions such as hypertension substantially increase women’s risk for CVD. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted employment, social interactions, caregiving responsibilities, and overall well-being worldwide; however, little research has investigated how COVID-19 has affected women in midlife. The present study was designed to determine how COVID-19 has affected women in midlife with elevated risk for CVD, by examining changes in their mental health symptoms and life domains across three time points: prior to COVID-19 (2019), during stay-at-home orders (April–June 2020), and during initial reopening (August 2020). Women in midlife with one or more CVD risk conditions (e.g., hypertension; n = 35) responded to questions related to COVID-19, changes in life circumstances, and mental health symptoms at each time point. Findings showed meaningful changes in caregiving, medical visits, and employment status, as well as significant changes in depression and sleep quality scores across time. However, the findings also showed that women were distressed prior to COVID-19 and did not exhibit changes in perceived stress, body dissatisfaction, or anxiety symptoms over time. Findings from this study highlight the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on an at-risk group of women, which may be used to help guide future health promotion efforts specifically tailored to this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)637-648
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Women and Aging
Volume34
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gender Studies
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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