Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are more likely to have a medical condition associated with obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
The condition, called metabolic syndrome, is linked to PTSD among veterans after controlling for other factors such as depression or substance abuse.
Metabolic syndrome is composed of a cluster of clinical signs including obesity, high blood pressure and insulin resistance. It has been associated with diabetes, cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.
Any traumatic event or series of events can cause posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). According to the UK National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), up to 30% of people who have experienced a traumatic event may go on to develop PTSD and it may affect about 8% of people at some point in their lives.
Pia Heppner, of the Veterans Affairs of San Diego, VA Center of Excellence for Stress and Mental Health (CESAMH) and the University of California San Diego, with a team of researchers from the VA, analyzed clinical data from 253 male and female veterans.
They found that those with a higher severity of PTSD were more likely to meet the diagnostic criteria for metabolic syndrome.
“This line of research suggests that stress and post-stress responses are related to long-term health outcomes. Studies show that veterans, prisoners of war and individuals exposed to severe trauma have higher rates of physical morbidity and mortality and increased health care utilization,” noted Dr. Heppner.
“Our findings suggest that metabolic syndrome provides a useful framework for assessing and describing the physical burden of PTSD and can be used prospectively to evaluate health risks that may be associated with combat exposure and PTSD.”
The research is published in the open access journal BMC Medicine.
Source: BioMed Central