Veteranclaims’s Blog

November 17, 2010

PTSD More Than Psychological Disorder, Doubles Risk for Cardiovascular Death

Full Article at: Post-traumatic stress disorder linked to death, atherosclerosis in veterans
November 17, 2010

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) more than doubles a veteran’s risk of death from any cause and is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease, according to research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2010.

PTSD is more than a psychological disorder, and the study suggests that physicians should provide early and aggressive evaluation and treatment of cardiovascular risk factors in patients with PTSD, said Naser Ahmadi, M.D., M.S., and Ramin Ebrahimi, M.D., co-principal investigators of the study. PTSD is a cluster of symptoms that can include emotional numbing, avoidance of certain situations, hyperarousal, sleep disruptions and impaired concentration.

“This study for the first time appears to point to the mechanism for the cardiovascular part of that excess mortality risk: accelerated atherosclerosis,” said Ahmadi, a research scientist at the Greater Los Angeles Veterans Administration (VA) Medical Center. “Our trial is the first to make a direct association between PTSD and atherosclerotic coronary disease as measured by coronary artery calcification (CAC), a standard test that is commonly used in studies such as ours because it can be measured non-invasively.”

“Among veterans with calcium buildup, those with PTSD had a 48 percent greater risk of death from any cause and a 41 percent greater risk of death due to cardiovascular disease compared to non-PTSD veterans.”

“The study’s findings are important because they show that PTSD predicts death independently of known cardiovascular risk factors, Ahmadi said. “We also believe we have found a mechanism by which PTSD could increase the risk of cardiovascular events via atherosclerosis. If we focus on early detection and management of cardiovascular risk factors in veterans with PTSD, we might be able to delay the onset of cardiovascular disease.”

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