Combat exposure ups heart attack risk
Combat service, whether or not it leads to a full post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnosis, is itself a strong predictor of heart failure, reveals a new study of 8,000 war veterans in the US.
New York: Combat service, whether or not it leads to a full post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnosis, is itself a strong predictor of heart failure, reveals a new study of 8,000 war veterans in the US.
The veterans with combat experience were about five times more likely to develop heart failure during the study period, compared with those who had not seen combat, the study of veterans living in Hawaii and the Pacific Islands found.
The study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, found that those with post-traumatic stress disorder had a nearly 50 percent greater risk of developing heart failure over about a seven-year follow-up period, compared with their non-PTSD peers.
The findings add to a growing body of evidence linking PTSD and heart disease.
"There are many theories as to how exactly PTSD contributes to heart disease. Overall, the evidence to date seems to point in the direction of a causal relationship," said senior study author Alyssa Mansfield.
The researchers followed the subjects for just over seven years. Those with a PTSD diagnosis were 47 percent more likely to develop heart failure during the follow-up period. Out of the total study group, about 21 percent were diagnosed with PTSD.
Of the total 371 cases of heart failure during the study, 287 occurred among those with PTSD, whereas only 84 cases occurred among the group without PTSD.
The new results, said Mansfield, provide further potent evidence of the nexus between mental and physical health. The practical upshot of the findings is that veterans with PTSD should realise that by treating their PTSD, they may also be helping to prevent heart disease down the road, she said.