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Heart Disease Among Vets With PTSD

heartA new study finds Vietnam veterans who experienced posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were twice as likely to die from heart disease as veterans without PTSD.

In a study published in the July issue of Psychosomatic Medicine, Senior Investigator Joseph Boscarino, PhD, MPH the examined the prevalence of heart disease, PTSD and other problems in more than 4,000 Vietnam veterans.

The more severe the PTSD diagnosis, the greater the likelihood of death from heart disease, the study showed.

Vietnam veterans with PTSD–like chronic smokers—are at higher risk of early death from heart disease, Dr. Boscarino concluded. Boscarino equated PTSD to smoking two to three packs of cigarettes per day for more than 20 years.

PTSD causes the body to release stress hormones, which leads to the inflammation and damage to the arteries and cardiovascular system damage. Stress hormones also tend to reduce the amount of inflammation-reducing cortisol in the body—though researchers aren’t sure why.

“Increased levels of stress hormones and less cortisol from PTSD are a bad combination,” Dr. Boscarino explained. “Basically, PTSD just cooks your arteries in this situation.”

Dr. Boscarino previously found that people with PTSD had dramatically higher rates of chronic health problems such as psoriasis, arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.

“The science is conclusively showing that if you suffer psychological trauma, it’s going to take a toll on your physical health,” Dr. Boscarino said. “Getting counseling today is critical to avoiding a related problem tomorrow.”

This study excluded patients with a prior history of heart disease and included a national sample of veterans, which is different from prior studies on the topic, Boscarino said.

Source: Geisinger Health System

Heart Disease Among Vets With PTSD

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Heart Disease Among Vets With PTSD. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 24, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2008/07/07/heart-disease-among-vets-with-ptsd/2558.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.